* The odds are not in their favor

Are black and white students performing equally well on average across the country?  You can ask any teacher and they know the answer without pause.  But let’s see how The Nation’s Report Card answers that question, based on the findings of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an organization considered the gold standard in determining nationwide student performance.   The good news is that as a country, our students performed higher on average in 2013 than in the 1990’s.  Here’s an example of reading scores of 4th grade students grouped by race.

Reading 4th making gains

On its own, though, that graph doesn’t really tell us much.  Now let’s examine the gap between white and black students over time.  While it’s encouraging that nonwhite students are making gains, test scores remain racially predictable. And black kids are years below their white peers.  Here are the 8th grade reading scores over time (1990’s to 2013).

Achievement gaps 2013 8th reading

Now look at the math scores by race for 8th graders:

Achievement gaps 2013 4th math

You can see that black kids consistently perform below white kids in both reading and math.  Despite billions poured into Head Start, despite cries for educational reform, despite the fact that prison construction is based upon 2nd grade reading scores in some states, our black children are failing.  They are not adequately prepared for success by the public school system.  Literacy and numeracy are “gatekeepers” for black students, for whom closed doors are usually determined by 8th grade.  What are the issues?  What are some answers?  Stay tuned.