NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Minorities Assessed

December 29, 1996

A new study concludes that minority students are falling behind whites in achievement after a long period of narrowing the gap. The study, by the Education Trust, relies primarily on results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

  • The overall gap between white and black students had declined by about 50 percent in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • It had declined by about one-third between white and Hispanic students.

The more recent growth in the gap is evident, but varies for different grades and different subjects.

  • Black 17-year-olds scored 45 points below whites in science (on a scale of 500) in 1986 -- versus 49 points in 1994.
  • In math the gap was 21 points in 1990 and 27 points in 1994.
  • Hispanic 17-year-olds scored 34 points lower than whites in science in 1992, but 45 points lower in 1994.
  • In reading, they scored 22 points below in 1990 and 33 points below in 1994.

The report concludes that the current effort to set higher standards for all children is beneficial because minorities have often been held to lower standards than whites and thus perform at lower levels.

Source: Peter Applebome, "Minorities Falling Behind In Student Achievement," New York Times, December 29, 1996.


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