How Are Black Kids Faring In DC Public Schools?

July 17, 2009

As I was wrapping up my posting on the race gap in education, the U.S. Department of Education issued a report on the issue. Using the same scores I used from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, it breaks down black/white reading and math scores by state.

Comparative scores for the District of Columbia are provided only for 4th graders. For these, there’s one bright spot. The 4th grade math score gap narrowed somewhat between 1992 and 2007.

But the 2007 figures are dismal–both for all D.C. public elementary school students and for the gaps between blacks and whites.

  • The District’s overall 4th grade math score was the lowest in the country–14 points lower than the next lowest states and 29 points lower than the all-U.S. score.
  • The overall reading score was also the lowest in the country–10 points lower than the next lowest state and 23 points lower than the all-U.S. score.
  • The gap between black and white math scores was the highest in the country–19 points higher than the next highest state and more than double the all-U.S. score gap.
  • The gap between black and white reading scores was also the highest in the country–29 points higher than the next highest state and nearly two and a half times the all-U.S. gap.

A couple of days ago, the District of Columbia Public Schools announced that scores on its own 2009 performance assessments were higher than 2008 scores, continuing an upward trend from 2007. This still leaves more than half its elementary school students below the proficiency standard for their grade level.

DCPS also reports narrower black/white race gaps in both math and reading, but not how wide the gaps are now. Given the size of the gaps in the NAEP scores and the reported progress figures, it’s still got a long way to go.


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