Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – The achievement gap between African American and White students grew in 16 states between 1992 and 1998. The gap between Hispanic and White students grew in 9 states over the same period of time. This according to the state-by-state reading scores of 4th graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released today by the U.S. Department of Education.

Only 6 states made progress in narrowing the gap between White and African American students and just 3 states made progress narrowing the gap between White and Hispanic students.

“These achievement gaps are both unnecessary and dangerous,” said Kati Haycock, director of The Education Trust. “The gaps are unnecessary because we know how to close them and we did, as a nation, make progress in closing them during the 1970’s and 80’s. The gaps are dangerous, because we can ill afford the costs – human, economic, and civic – associated with failing to provide all of our students with the skills and knowledge that they, and our country, need to thrive in the new century.”

“Some states – Delaware, California, Connecticut and Virginia, for example – are proving that these gaps can be narrowed. These states are not using magic to narrow the gap. It takes hard work, political will and common sense,” said Haycock.

According to Haycock, a four part “common-sense agenda” could close the gap and improve achievement for all students:

  • All schools should be held publicly accountable for high achievement for all students.
  • All students should be held to a high standard of performance.
  • All students should be enrolled in a rigorous curriculum.
  • All students need teachers who know their subjects and how to teach them.