The Hispanic-White educational achievement gap has remained wide over the past two decades, according to a report released last week by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).
Using the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, the report showed that since the 1990s, scores in math and reading for both Hispanic and white students have increased but the gap between them has persisted.
Hispanic Students Face Grave Educational Challenges
From The Daily Mail:
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said: “Race and ethnicity shouldn’t be factors in the success of any child in America. Hispanic students face grave educational challenges that are hindering their ability to pursue the American dream.”
The NCES compared data on the achievement gap between Hispanic and white public school students in grades 4 and 8 at the national and state levels over the past two decades to 2009, the most recent assessment year, Reuters reports.
The national average of achievement gaps between Hispanic and white students at grades 4 and 8 in mathematics and reading is roughly 20 points on the 500-point NAEP scale, according to the report.
A Closer Look Reveals Some Progress
But it’s not all gloom and doom. Hints of progress can be found with a closer look at low-income Hispanics or those who already know the English language. And some states stand out for gaps considerably lower than the national average. You can read full details of the report here.
Still, it’s important to question why this gap persists overall. The Christian Science Monitor points out that many communities in the United States have seen rapid growth of their Hispanic population. During the past two decades, the proportion of students in Grades 4 and 8 who are Hispanic grew from about 7 percent to 22 percent.
Poverty And Poor English Skills Are Major Factors
Among these students, 77 percent are eligible for reduced-price meals at school, a proxy for poverty, which tends to correlate with lower test scores. And large portions of them (37 percent in Grade 4 and 21 percent in Grade 8 ) are designated as English-language learners (ELLs), who by definition are not fully proficient in reading English.
Looking at these statistics from a different angle, the report reveals that over 70 per cent of Hispanic students at grades 4 and 8 are eligible for reduced-price meals, as compared to less than 30 per cent of white students.
Another factor, not mentioned in this report, is that many of the Hispanic children are placed in their age-appropriate grade, but may never have been in a formal school situation before. With these issues in mind, these numbers start to look much more positive.
Every American Has A Stake In This
But still this achievement gap must be narrowed, especially since according to the Census bureau, Hispanics account for half of the U.S. population growth, and Hispanic students are now the largest minority group in U.S. schools.
As first reported in The Daily Mail: “Low Hispanic education attainment levels aren’t just a problem for the Latino community,” said Juan Sepulveda, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. “Every American has a stake in this.”
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