School & District Management

Achievement Gap On NAEP: More Stubborn in Higher Grades

By Catherine Gewertz — July 15, 2009 1 min read

How are we doing narrowing the achievement gap between black and white students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress? My colleague Sean Cavanagh brings you the latest on that. And it looks better at the 4th grade level than at the 8th.

For instance, Sean reports, 14 states and the District of Columbia narrowed the gap in math scores between 1992 and 2007 in 4th grade, but only four states did so (between 1990 and 2007) in 8th grade.

In reading, only three states narrowed the scores gap at the 4th grade level, but none did so at the 8th grade level.

Put that together with earlier trend data from NAEP, which found that high schoolers’ scores have remained flat over time while those of younger students have improved, and it creates the disheartening—though not shockingly new—picture that the older our students get, the less effective we are at boosting their achievement.

Just yesterday, someone I interviewed for a story told me that he thinks we haven’t yet produced a “sufficient level of outrage” to catalyze profound school-improvement work at the secondary school level. What will it take?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.