Stanford University recently looked at data from about 200 million standardized math and reading tests given to third through eighth graders in every state between 2009 and 2012, and the results provided an incredibly detailed, data-rich explanation of something you probably already know: Race and family income play an enormous role in a yawning, persistent achievement gap amongst students in this country. There’s not a lot of good news in the report, but there are 3 delightful interactive graphs that make all of the numbers a lot easier to digest.
The study revealed that the communities with the smallest achievement gaps were either those which had very few black or Hispanic children, or places like Buffalo or Detroit, where minority students and white students experience a similar level of poverty … and perform equally poorly on tests. The largest gaps existed in some of the wealthiest cities like Berkeley, CA, Chapel Hill, NC, and Evanston, IL, where white students scored up to 3.9 grades ahead of the national average. Atlanta public schools experienced a significant gap without the wealth, with white students scoring 2.9 grades higher, hispanic students scoring 1.1 grades lower, and black students scoring 1.5 grades lower.
Sean F. Reardon, one of the authors of the study, noted that this data should not be used to rank districts, schools, or to dictate funding. Rather, it should be used to reflect how much race and class are linked, and the reality of how this connection can be magnified in an educational setting. “There are some outliers, and trying to figure out what’s making them more successful is worth looking at,” he said.
Before yanking your kid from class in favor of homeschooling, maybe just consider moving to Union City, NJ. Students there consistently performed about a third of a grade level above the national average, despite the fact that the school is 95 percent hispanic, the median family income is only $37,000 and a majority of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch. So, that’s one reason to hope the system can be fixed — or, at least, a reason to be a little nicer to New Jersey.
[H/T] The New York Times