Keeping Pace, But Not Catching Up: The Real Achievement Gap
The academic achievement gap between Black and White students exists even before kids enter school according to a new report released today. The report also shows that students in the same schools tend to learn at the same pace, regardless of color and the achievement gap remains consistent through graduation. The Black Parent Initiative (BPI) commissioned the report, “A Deeper Look at the Black-White Achievement Gap in Multnomah County” with a grant from the Chalkboard Project.
- Early learning: The gap between Black and White students exists even before kids enter school. Once in school, the gap generally stays the same over time. Black students tend to stay about 1.5 grades behind their White peers.
- On the move: For all grades, Black students move more often than White students from one year to the next. By high school, Blacks are nearly twice as likely to change schools as Whites.
- Income and the achievement gap: 79% of Black students are economically disadvantaged. Once income is considered, 40% of the gap disappears.
- Teacher turnover: Black students are more likely to attend schools with high rates of teacher turnover than White students. Turnover is particularly pronounced in the middle grades where Black students have a 27% chance of having a teacher who is new to their school, compared to 17% for White students.
Sue Hildick, President, Chalkboard Project: “There has never been a more important time to ensure all Oregon students perform at a high level. We know having quality teachers in the classroom is one way to achieve this. Working with a community based organization to understand the complexities of the achievement gap has taken our experience pairing research with community organizing to a new level.”
Charles McGee, Executive Director of the Black Parent Initiative: “Research is an important step, however data alone will not help us close the achievement gap. It is critical that we take action now. Thankfully, several schools are on their way to making significant strides.”
Venasha Williams, a former student at POIC/Rosemary Anderson High School, now a student at Portland Community College: “They [Rosemary Anderson teachers] always tried to inspire you. Not a lot of people get that in their lives. They were always trying to push us to do better. You could tell they cared. I hope all students can get the same experience,” she added. “They might not all listen or change their lives, but I hope they can all be inspired.”
Marc Levy, CEO and President of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette: “It is essential that we support programs that will increase the graduation rate and close the educational gap. After all, education is the gateway to being prepared for the living wage jobs of the future and for our community to have the workforce that attracts thriving and growing businesses.”
Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith: “As a school district, it’s our job to help every single child succeed. This study challenges us to focus our efforts to close the achievement gap, learn from the schools that are producing measurable gains and to strengthen our partnership with community organizations like BPI who are working to support students and families.”