Racial gap narrows for young students

Black and white students are improving in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  In math and fourth-grade reading, blacks narrowed achievement gaps. But the gap remains large, reports USA Today.  Progress for younger students often is lost in middle and high school.

It’s a start, responds Education Trust.  “In fourth-grade math, for example, average performance for African-American students on the 2007 main NAEP assessment is higher than the average for white students in 1990,” said president Kati Haycock.

Among 9-year-olds:

Compared to 1973, math gains for African-American students (34 points) and Latino students (32 points) have outpaced gains for white students (25 points). However, math scores for African-American and Latino students have not significantly improved since 2004.

Similarly, reading gains for African-American students (34 points) and Latino students (24 points) have outpaced gains for white students (14 points) since the beginning of the trend. Since 2004, scores for all groups of students have increased significantly.

However, the news is less rosy for 13-year-olds, Education Trust notes. And high school reading and math skills have “stagnated” for 35 years. As a result, “the skills of African-American and Latino 17-year-olds still lag about four years behind those of their white peers.”

Defense Department schools in the U.S. and overseas show the smallest gaps between black and white students.

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