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Education Opinion

More Bad News on the Reading Achievement Gap in New York City (Plus, Free Cape Inside!)

By Eduwonkette — July 24, 2008 1 min read

On Tuesday I described the math achievement disparities separating black and Hispanic New York City students from their white and Asian counterparts on NAEP. Turning our attention now to reading, you’ll see that the achievement gap has not narrowed in reading either.

However, in 8th grade, the achievement gap is moving in the wrong direction; when we compare the performance of Asian students with their black and Hispanic peers, we see that the gap has grown quickly and quite substantially.

Here are some basic facts about New York City black and Hispanic students’ reading performance:

* In 2007, the average African-American 4th grade student in NYC performed at the 23rd percentile of the white distribution in reading, and at the 26th percentile of the Asian distribution. Put differently, 77 percent of white students performed above the average black reading score, and 74 percent of Asian students did.

* In 2007, the average African-American 8th grade student in NYC performed at the 21st percentile of the white distribution in reading, and at the 20th percentile of the Asian distribution.

* The Hispanic figures are similar. In 2007, the average Hispanic student performed at the 21st percentile of the white distribution in both grades 4 and 8.

Quite astonishing is the sizable growth in the Asian-Hispanic and Asian-black achievement gap in 8th grade reading:

* Between 2003 and 2007, the average black 8th grader in NYC has fallen from the 31st to the 20th percentile of the Asian distribution – a drop of 11 percentile points.

* Between 2003 and 2007, the average Hispanic 8th grader has fallen from the 33rd to the 21st percentile of the Asian distribution – a drop of 12 percentile points.

We’ve still got radio silence from the Truth Squad on the New York state scale scores. Could it be that the New York City Department of Education knows something that we don’t? If you could show that achievement gaps had narrowed on the state test, wouldn’t you throw those scores up on your website immediately?

Hey, Al Sharpton: If you are reading, maybe you could file a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for me. To sweeten the deal for you, I’ll throw in a free cape. If you wait until Fashion Week, yellow (or shall we call it chartreuse?) capes will be hard to come by.

I’m not counting on Al to step up, but someone should really FOIL. Reporters of New York City – Unite!

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.

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