Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The achievement gaps between racial groups in New York City appear as soon as students begin taking state tests and get worse over time, according to a new analysis of state test-score data

Black and Hispanic students score below their white and Asian peers beginning in third grade, then fall further behind as they move into middle school, according to a report released by the city’s Independent Budget Office. The analysis follows roughly 71,000 individual students who entered third grade in 2008, tracking their state standardized test scores through seventh grade (in math) and eighth grade (in reading). The study, which includes students in traditional and charter schools, controls for factors such as students’ disability status, poverty level, and the schools they attended — suggesting that racial gaps cut across different schools and student groups. Roughly a third of black and Hispanic students in that 2008-09 cohort landed in the bottom quartile on the reading tests — meaning they earned lower scores than 75% or more of test-takers. By contrast, just 13% of white and Asian students fell in that lowest tier. The gaps were similar in math, with Asians doing a little better than whites and Hispanics narrowly outperforming blacks. Over time, black students in that cohort fell further behind. By eighth grade, 33% scored in the lowest quartile in reading — a 4 percentage point increase from third grade. In math, 35% were low-performing, a 3-point increase. Meanwhile, the share of white and Asian students in the bottom rungs of reading and math grew smaller. By the end of middle school, the percentage of Hispanic students in the bottom quartile in reading had shrunk by 3 points — narrowing from 33% to 30%. In math, it stayed the same: 30%. That slight improvement in reading helped narrow their gap a tiny bit with their white peers, but not with Asians. If black and Hispanic students were over-represented in the bottom rungs of achievement — Asians dominated the top. In third grade, nearly half of Asian students scored above the 75th percentile — a larger share than any other racial group. In reading, they landed slightly behind white students. By eighth grade, Asian students had widened their lead in math, with 59% making it into the top quartile — a 10-point leap from third grade. And in reading, 49% reached the top rung. In both subjects, they made up a larger percentage of top scorers than all other racial groups, including whites. In both reading and math, black boys represented a far greater share of low-performing students than boys in any other racial category. By the end of middle school, 41% of black boys scored in the bottom quartile in reading, and 38% were low-performing in math. White boys, by contrast, had just 14% in the bottom rung in reading, and 10% in math.

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