Closing the Achievement Gap

There has been much discussion over the past forty years about the gap that separates underprivileged children and students of color from other students. This gap was narrowed quite a bit during the 1980’s particularly between whites and blacks it has remained fairly constant since. Below the national average performance of minority students continues to be one of the most pressing problems facing America’s educational system.

On average today’s black or Hispanic high school student reaches a level on par with white students in the lowest 25 percentile. They are also much more likely to fall behind and drop out of school and their chances of graduation high school, continuing on to college or earn a median income are much reduced.

There are many factors believed to influence this, the students racial and economic background, the level of education which their parents achieved, The access to schooling that they had in their preschool days, the funding of the school which they attend, the quality of teachers and involvement in school activities.

A recent study has shown that only 11 percent of students families in the bottom fifth of the economy have gone on to earn college degrees while 53 percent of children from the top fifth have graduated college. Children of Middle income black families have a 50 percent chance to fall into the lower fifth while only 16 percent of whites fell into that category. Black children from the lower fifth of the country have a 19 percent chance to reach the top fifth with 62 percent joining the middle class or higher.