Study: Most School Districts Have Achievement Gaps

NAEP statistical analysis from Stanford study.

Study: Most School Districts Have Achievement Gaps

That five-year period enabled researchers to focus on districts completing a decade of state and federal accountability initiatives designed to close academic gaps between white students and their black and Hispanic peers. Of the 2,500 school districts with a large enough sample of black students to measure their achievement gaps, Reardon and his colleagues found only one with no black-white gap: Detroit.

“Detroit is not the poster child for reducing the achievement gap,” Reardon said in an interview with Education Week. “The achievement gap is zero in Detroit largely because everyone’s doing really poorly, not because black students are doing particularly well.”

Several of the other districts with the lowest achievement gaps have similar profiles of high poverty and multiple attempts at education overhauls, suggesting their low achievement gaps come from lower performance overall.

Moreover, the researchers found some of the biggest black-white achievement gaps in the country—where black students lag their white peers by more than 1.5 full standard deviations, or four to five grade levels on the NAEP scale—in relatively prosperous university towns, including Berkeley, Calif. (home of University of California, Berkeley), and Evanston, Ill. (home of Northwestern University).

Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools

IES Statistical Analysis of NAEP reading assessment, circa 2009

Article Link: Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools

Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress July 2009

White students…had higher scores than Black students, on average, on all assessments. While the nationwide gaps in 2007 were narrower than in previous assessments at both grades 4 and 8 in mathematics and at grade 4 in reading, white students had average scores at least 26 points higher than Black students in each subject, on a 0-500 scale.

This report will use results from both the main NAEP and the long-term trend NAEP assessments to examine the Black-white achievement gaps, and changes in those gaps, at the national and state level.