Achievement gap between black and white students seems to be widening even as scores rise
Marc H. Morial:
This by no means implies that Black children have not made progress. They have - but incrementally, according to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress-otherwise known as the Nation's Report Card that gauges student achievement. Just not enough to keep pace with their White counterparts, who are hardly breaking achievement records by any stretch of the imagination. The difference in percentage of White and African-American students performing at an adequate level in both reading and math appears to be expanding not closing - despite efforts to the contrary at the local, state and federal levels over the past 15 years.
From 1992 to 2005, the percentage of African-American fourth-graders who read at or above proficiency grew from 8 to 12 percent, according to the report card. Over the same period, the percentage of White students reading at the same level increased from 35 percent to 41 percent. Yet, as average achievement test scores improved, the chasm between adept White and Black readers widened by 1 percentage point - from 27 to 28 over the 1992-2005 period.
Where Black children have shown strong progress is on the mathematics front, an encouraging trend given the importance of technology in our nation's current and future economy. From 1990 to 2005, the percentage of African-American fourth graders scoring at or above proficiency soared more than thirteen-fold from 1 percent to 13 percent. But, once again, the gap between White and Black fourth-graders with adequate math skills grew by four percentage points - from 20 to 24 percentage points.
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