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Study: States Must Act Faster to Close Academic Gaps

"State Test Score Trends Through 2008-09, Part 2: Slow and Uneven Progress in Narrowing Gaps"

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If states continue their current pace in narrowing achievement gaps between students of different races, ethnic groups, and income levels, it could take decades for lagging student groups to catch up to their peers in some states, a study of more than 40 states has found.

The study by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington-based research and policy group, breaks new ground by estimating the length of time it will take to close gaps in a sample of states, said Jack Jennings, the organization’s president and chief executive officer.

It shows that, across the nation, achievement gaps remain large and persistent, but the gaps between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites, and between African-Americans and whites, are narrowing more quickly than those between Native Americans and whites.

Gap-closing progress is also uneven among states. At the rate that Washington state is going, for example, the center predicts it will take 105 years to close the gap between black and white students in 4th grade reading. By contrast, if Louisiana continues to narrow the gap between those same groups of students at the pace its currently going on, the gap in 4th grade reading could close in 12-and-a-half years.

The study, released Dec. 14, examined state testing data used for accountability purposes under the No Child Left Behind Act from 2002 to 2009 and data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Vol. 30, Issue 15, Page 5

Published in Print: January 12, 2011, as Report Urges States to Move Faster to Close Gaps in Pupil Achievement
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