Opinion
Education Opinion

In New York City, A Long Wait Ahead to Close the Math Achievement Gap

By Eduwonkette — July 22, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Today I will lay out the math achievement disparities separating black and Hispanic New York City students from their white and Asian counterparts on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Needless to say, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein forgot to mention these inconvenient facts when they testified before Congress last week:

* In 2007, the average African-American 8th grade student in NYC performed at the 20th percentile of the white distribution in math, and at the 15th percentile of the Asian distribution. Put differently, 80 percent of white students performed above the average African-American math score, and 85 percent of Asian students did.

* In 2007, the average Hispanic 8th grade student in NYC performed at the 24th percentile of the white distribution in math, and at the 17th percentile of the Asian distribution. In other words, 76 percent of white students performed above the average Hispanic math score, and 83 percent of Asian students did.

The size of those gaps is almost identical for 4th grade students.

If there is trouble in Gotham, it can be summarized in a few lines: best case scenario, the black-white achievement gap in 8th grade math achievement won’t close for 21 years, and the Hispanic-white achievement gap won’t close for 36 years. But here’s the catch: these projections only hold if white students make no progress. And indeed, they have made no progress in 8th grade math in the last four years: The average scale score for white students was the same in 2003 as it was in 2007 (289 points). If white students also improve, these gaps will take even longer to close if New York City continues at the current pace.

What’s more, the gaps separating black and Hispanic students from their Asian peers appear to be growing, at least in the 8th grade. Though only the growth in the Asian-Hispanic achievement gap is statistically significant, the growth in this gap from 2003 to 2007 is suggestive of a troubling trend:

* Between 2003 and 2007, the average black 8th grader in NYC has fallen from the 19th to the 15th percentile of the Asian distribution. (Note that this change falls short of statistical significance, however.)

* Between 2003 and 2007, the average Hispanic 8th grader has fallen from the 24th to the 17th percentile of the Asian distribution.

Of late, Joel Klein has taken to invoking Martin Luther King, a habit that I find quite infuriating given the sizable and persistent achievement gaps in New York City - notwithstanding his PR campaign clucking about his successes on this front. I don’t think Dr. King would have looked kindly on such subterfuge. So I leave you with this quote from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which provides a lens through which to view these gaps and New Yorkers growing impatience with the Department of Education’s unwillingness to acknowledge that gaps have not closed under their watch:

For years now I have heard the word “Wait!”....This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” ....There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

Tomorrow: The Reading Achievement Gap in New York City.

The opinions expressed in eduwonkette 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.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Gunman in Parkland School Massacre to Plead Guilty
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said.
4 min read
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP