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Hispanic-White Achievement Gap Remains Wide

Hispanic-White Achievement Gap Remains Wide


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.”

Photo Credit: Monica’s Dad via Creative Commons

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2:37AM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

Great information, thanks for posting

3:56PM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

I'm a bit concerned with how at the mention of hispanics everyone suddenly jumps on the "illgal immigrants" bandwagon. I'm not from the States myself, but it seems that there is some massive labling and stereotyping going down.

Amy D, it's a shame how you have such a single minded train of thought on human relations. Let's see you go to a foreign non-english speaking country and immediately integrate into a new society and culture. I also smile with the irony that you believe America to be "your" country, spare a thought to the (believe it or not) HISPANICS that live there too and call the USA home too.

9:01PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

They FIRST need to speak ENGLISH, then you can compare the "gap".

7:12AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

One of the many problems is that people like Amy D always associate Hispanic with illegal.

Hispanics are the fastest growing LEGAL demographic in the US, and the education of all children is important.

6:34AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Should all students have equal opportunities to learn? 20% says No. what a shame.

6:20AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

One of the many problems is that these people do not value education. They pull their children out of school to babysit for their sisters and brothers or to translate for their parents because no matter how long they live here they never learn english. I have seen this over and over again. In Waukegan Illinois they can actually go through the entire school system never speaking english. How does that benefit them in the long run? If they are illegal they need to get out of my country and go home. Take the money you gave to the coyotes and make Mexico a better place instead of trashing my home.

5:01AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Thanks for the article.

7:51PM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

To those who are paranoid about whether people are here legally or not; remember, many of your foreparents snuck in too! All of them didn't get in through Ellis island, nor were kidnapped like my ancestors were!

2:31PM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

all children have the right to go to our public schools if they are legal. illegals need to be sent back home.

12:08PM PDT on Jun 28, 2011


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