Assessment

Yapping About the Achievement Gap

By Sean Cavanagh — July 16, 2009 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Reaction to the recent report on the black-white achievement gap has rolled in from across the country, and it’s predictably varied, based on how well or poorly individual states fared. In some ways, I suppose this reflects the power of the publicly reported state-by-state results on NAEP, though you could make the argument that states have become pretty adept at ignoring test scores when the results don’t suit them. Kati Haycock of the Education Trust made a similar point to me in the story I wrote about the results.

Still, I think this report, put together by the National Center for Education Statistics, will have legs, and we’ll keep hearing state and local education officials referring back to it when they’re touting one particular education policy or another. The state-by-state and state-to-nation comparisons are simply too compelling a storyline. You could write the press release from any number of state commissioners of education right now: “According to a study released this year, the gap between African-American students and white students in [insert state here] is larger than the national average in 4th grade reading and has actually widened over time. ...” Followed by the announcement of a new literacy program, early-childhood initiative, or similar proposal. I’d compare reaction to this study with what I remember as a pretty strong wave of coverage that followed another NCES study released a few years ago, which examined where the states were setting their “proficiency” bar on state tests, which was of course all over the map.

A couple responses from the states worth noting:

—The results were “outrageous and ought to be an immediate call to action,” a former state schools chief in Illinois tells the Chicago Sun-Times, referencing his state’s achievement gaps.

—From Wisconsin, where the black-white achievement gap exceeded national averages in all four reading and math categories: “Somebody needs to ask questions about why other states are making more progress and Wisconsin isn’t,” Haycock told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “How is it that Wisconsin has lower performance among African-American kids than Mississippi or Alabama? How does that happen?”

—For Florida, one of only a couple states to narrow the gap significantly in 4th grade math and reading, the results represent “tremendous progress,” said state education Commissioner Eric J. Smith, but the state has “much more work to do.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

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

Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment in 2021
In this Spotlight, review newest assessment scores, see how districts will catch up with their supports for disabled students, plus more.
Assessment 'Nation's Report Card' Has a New Reading Framework, After a Drawn-Out Battle Over Equity
The new framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress will guide development of the 2026 reading test.
10 min read
results 925693186 02
iStock/Getty
Assessment Opinion Q&A Collections: Assessment
Scores of educators share commentaries on the use of assessments in schools.
5 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Assessment Standardized Tests Could Be in Jeopardy in Wake of Biden Decisions, Experts Say
Has the Biden administration shored up statewide tests this year only to risk undermining long-term public backing for them?
6 min read
Image of a test sheet.
sengchoy/iStock/Getty