Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading
In 2007, mathematics scores for both Black and White public school students in grades 4 and 8 nationwide, as measured by the main NAEP assessments of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), were higher than in any previous assessment, going back to 1990. This was also true for Black and White fourth-graders on the NAEP 2007 Reading Assessment. For grade 8, reading scores for both Black and White students were higher in 2007 than in the first reading assessment year, 1992, as well as the most recent previous assessment year, 2005.
White students, however, had higher scores than Black students, on average, on all assessments. While the nationwide gaps in 2007 were narrower than in previous assessments at both grades 4 and 8 in mathematics and at grade 4 in reading, White students had average scores at least 26 points higher than Black students in each subject, on a 0-500 scale. This report will use results from both the main NAEP and the long-term trend NAEP assessments to examine the Black-White achievement gaps, and changes in those gaps, at the national and state level.
The main NAEP 2007 Reading and Mathematics Assessments included grade 4 and grade 8 students both nationally and for all 50 states, as well as the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and the District of Columbia (hereinafter referred to as states). Not all states had Black (or White) student populations large enough to provide reliable data, and not all states participated in the earliest NAEP state assessments.
Most of the data in this report comes from the main NAEP assessments, supplemented with some data from the NAEP long-term trend assessments. Main NAEP assessments, which began in 1990 for mathematics and 1992 for reading, are administered at the fourth and eighth grades, both nationally and at the state level. Because main NAEP only assesses public schools in its state assessments, this report contains only public school results. The most recent results in this report are for 2007.
NAEP long-term trend assessments are administered by age rather than grade. This report references long-term trend assessment public school results from the earliest assessment through 2004, with results for ages 9 and 13 instead of grades 4 and 8. The long-term trend assessments provide public school results for mathematics going back to 1978 and for reading going back to 1980, at ages 9, 13, and 17, at the national level only, on a 0-500 point scale.
At both ages 9 and 13, mathematics scores for both Black and White students were higher in 2004 than in any previous assessment. The 23-point Black-White achievement gap in mathematics for age 9 public school students in 2004 was narrower than in the first assessment in 1978 but not significantly different from the gap in the most recent previous assessment in 1999. The same was true for the 26- point gap at age 13.
For age 9 reading, scores for both Black and White students were higher in 2004 than in any previous assessment, going back to 1980. The 26-point gap between Black and White students in 2004 was not significantly different from the gap in 1980, but was narrower than the gap in 1999. At age 13 reading, scores were higher for Black students in 2004 than in 1980, but did not show a significant difference from 1999. Scores for White students were not significantly different for either comparison year. The 21-point gap in student performance at age 13 reading in 2004 was narrower than in both 1980 and 1999.
The following two sections summarize state-level achievement gaps between Black and White students in the main NAEP assessments in mathematics and reading.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Education Statistics.
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