Thursday, July 16, 2009

NY Times: Regional Shift Seen in Education Gap 7/14/09

The following newspaper article excerpt is from NY Times education writer Sam Dillon entitled "Regional Shifts Seen in Education Gap". In the article (and represented in the graph to the left), the author points to a recent study which indicates that the gap between white and black students is narrowing in southern states but widening in northern states. The report uses NAEP date (National Assessment of Educational Progress), an unbiased and psychometrically strong assessment of student content knowledge that is largely independent of individual high stakes accountability mandated testing (like HSPA, NJASK, etc...) -Dr. Petrosino

Historically, the achievement gap between America’s black and white students was widest in Southern states, where the legacies of slavery and segregation were reflected in extremely low math and reading scores among poor African-American children.

But black students have made important gains in several Southern states over two decades, while in some Northern states, black achievement has improved more slowly than white achievement, or has even declined, according to a study of the black-white achievement gap released Tuesday by the Department of Education.

As a result, the nation’s widest black-white gaps are no longer seen in Southern states like Alabama or Mississippi, but rather in Northern and Midwestern states like Connecticut, Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin, according to the federal data.

Offering an alternative view, Warren T. Smith Sr., vice president of the Washington State Board of Education, expressed skepticism about regional variations in the achievement gap. “I’ve been an African-American male for 60 years, and lived in nine different states, North, South, East and West,” Mr. Smith said. “Certain things are consistent: inequitable distribution of teachers, inequitable funding of schools, institutional racism. That is consistent across the board, so if you expect to find a different gap in North or South, you’re not going to find that.”

Read full article: "Regional Shifts Seen in Education Gap"

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