Schundler: “The Incredible Shrinking Ed. Comm.”June 9, 2010
ELC Tilts at WindmillsJune 9, 2010
[F]or the record, New Jersey is closing the racial achievement gap faster than any other state.
Really? In what alternate universe? While Hispanic kids did slightly better, we have made no progress on closing the achievement gap between needy kids and wealthier kids. Here’s the narrative from our most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress report on 4th graders:
In 2009, students who were eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch, an indicator of low income, had an average score that was 26 points lower than that of students who were not eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch. This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 2003 (30 points).
For 8th graders:
In 2009, students who were eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch, an indicator of low income, had an average score that was 26 points lower than that of students who were not eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch. This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 2003.
Want another source? Here Democrats for Education Reform’s report card on our first application for the Race To The Top application:
While African-Americans make up 15% of the state’s K–12 student population, they represent at most 5% of those taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Latinos, who also make up 15% of the state’s student population, represent only 6% of those taking AP classes. Moreover, there are huge racial gaps on the pass rates for the national AP exams, even for those students who get to take the classes. While 85% of white students pass the AP Language and Composition test, only 49% of Latino and 46% of African-American students do.
The cumulative result: Approximately half as many African-Americans and Latinos in New Jersey (25 or older) hold a B.A. (20% and 15%) compared to their white counterparts (36%). It is clear that New Jersey’s second round application must include a detailed, bold, and ambitious high school reform agenda with the goals of dramatically increasing high schools graduation, college enrollment and completion rates for all students, with particular emphasis on students of color. Reviewers in Round 2 may also want to pay closer attention to the fact that a large number of the state’s students, and a disproportionate percentage of poor and minority students, take an “alternative” high school exit exam that is not aligned with state standards.