National study confirms California progress on achievement gap

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A report out Tuesdauy by a national education think tank confirms California is making progress toward solving one of the most pervasive education problems in schools.

African American and Latino students perform significantly lower on standardized tests than their white and Asian American peers in public schools. Six years ago about a quarter of black and Latino fourth graders met the state’s reading goals. More than half of white students met the goal.

The Washington D.C.-based Center on Education Policy gathered similar data for all 50 states. In California it found that the percentage of students who meet reading and math goals has risen across the board - but that a 20 percentage point gap persists between these two sets of ethnic groups.

That’s a big problem, says the center’s president, Jack Jennings, because Latinos in particular are becoming a larger proportion of the state school-age population.

"So tomorrow’s workers, tomorrow’s policemen, tomorrow’s soldiers are going to be from the populations that aren’t doing as well in school today," says Jennings. "So it’s a matter of justice but it’s also a matter of economic necessity that we have to address this achievement gap."

Jennings says the data suggest that federal and state education reforms may contribute to better test results, but that they still need fine-tuning to close this achievement gap.