A new report by the Education Trust illustrates how some methods of measuring states’ progress in closing achievement gaps between students from different racial, ethnic, or income groups can be misleading.
Between 2003 and 2009, for example, Georgia and West Virginia both narrowed the gap separating African-American students from their higher-achieving white peers on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in mathematics. In Georgia, though, both black and white students improved but by different amounts. In West Virginia, scores for African-American students increased, while white students’ performance stagnated.
To get a more complete measure of states’ progress, the report says, policymakers and analysts ought to look at: whether gaps between groups have decreased over time, whether all groups of students improved, the current size of the gaps between groups, and how each group compares with its counterparts in other jurisdictions.
Viewed from all those perspectives, the Washington-based research and advocacy group says five states emerge as clear leaders in closing achievement gaps. They are: Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, and Vermont.
A version of this article appeared in the January 20, 2010 edition of Education Week as Achievement Gaps