According to test score data released today, California students have increased their ability to pass state tests so that fully half of them are proficient in English, up from 46% proficient a year ago, and 46% are proficient in Math, up from 43% a year ago.
However the achievement gap remains as wide as ever, with only 37% of African American and Latino students performing at a proficient level in English.
This does not come as any shock to most educators. For all the emphasis on closing the gap, little has really changed for these students. Teachers and students have become more accustomed to these tests, which could provide at least part of the explanation for why scores have risen for seven years in a row. But this boosts all students, not just the groups that are lagging.
The comments that followed the online article in the San Francisco Chronicle reveal a public that seems increasingly cynical about the ability of African American and Latino students to achieve. One post after another railed about the inadequate parental support, dysfunctional culture and even intellectual deficits of these students. If these comments are any indication of popular opinion, many people place the cause of the achievement gap beyond the school doors.
One thing seems clear. Eight years of “shining a bright light” on the achievement gap seems to have made very little difference. And even if we can agree that these tests are an inadequate measure of student abilities, the relatively poor achievement of African American and Latino students is still a cause for concern.
So what do you think? Why is the achievement gap so persistent? What can be done to close it?
The opinions expressed in Living in Dialogue are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.