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Gap in D.C.'s Black-White Educational Achievement Widest in U.S., Study Shows

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

The gap between Black and White educational achievement is wider among D.C. Public School (DCPS) students than anywhere else in the U.S., a federally funded study has concluded. The 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress released Dec. 7, based on reading and math exams taken this year by fourth- and eighth-graders, revealed a 57-point and 62-point gap, respectively, in math and reading scores for District students.

The overall test results nationally showed student improvement in math, but strikingly little progress in reading, in state-by-state comparisons. Twenty-one large urban districts, including the District, have their results published separately from state results. D.C.’s gap was greater than the national average and for cities with populations of 250,000 or more.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, the umbrella association for large urban school systems, told The Washington Post that the racial achievement gap was more indicative of an income gap, noting that students in predominantly White Ward 3 scored higher than White students nationally, compared with students in Wards 7 and 8 – where the majority of the city’s child population resides – who tend to be poorer.

The DCPS is 79 percent Black, 12 percent Hispanic, 7 percent White and 2 percent self-described as “other.”

While the numbers are striking, the assessment study did not include charter schools, which educate about 40 percent of DCPS students. A separate analysis showed that Black charter school students tended to score higher than their traditionally-schooled counterparts in reading and math.

DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson told The Post, “We believe we have put the pieces in place to radically change these results and close the gap,” which would include more intervention, a new curriculum and improved teacher training

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