Performance Gap Widens Between Whites and Minorities

The performance gap between minority and white high school students continues to expand across the United States, with black and Latino teenagers performing at academic levels equal to or lower than those of 30 years ago, Teresa Wiltz writes at America's Wire.

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In a story at America’s Wire, The Root’s senior editor, Teresa Wiltz, writes that educators are alarmed at the expanding academic-performance gap between minority and white high school students. She says that new approaches are needed to stop the progress made in the lower grades from being wiped out in high school.

Educators are expressing alarm that the performance gap between minority and white high school students continues to expand across the United States, with minority teenagers performing at academic levels equal to or lower than those of 30 years ago.

Despite the hope that improving education for children of color would propel them to better life outcomes, Latino and African-American students are not being prepared in high school classrooms for brighter futures. While achievement levels have improved considerably for minority elementary and middle school students, educators say their academic performance drops during high school years.

How prevalent is the achievement gap at the high school level?

On average, African-American and Latino high school seniors perform math and read at the same level as 13-year-old white students.

“We take kids that start [high school] a little behind and by the time they finish high school, they’re way behind,” says Amy Wilkins, vice president for government affairs and communications at the Education Trust, a Washington-based educational advocacy group. “That’s the opposite of what American values say education is about. Education is supposed to level the playing field. And it does the opposite ... While many people are celebrating our postracial society ... there is still a significant hangover in our schools.”

The Education Trust says African-American and Latino students have made little to no progress in 12th-grade reading scores since 1994, continuing to lag behind white students. Math achievement has also remained flat, with the gap between white students and those of color widening.

Read Teresa Wiltz's entire story at America’s Wire.

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