Slow and Uneven Progress in Narrowing Gaps

This report by the Center on
Education Policy looks at student progress in the years since the
implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. 

Specifically, it examines whether states are increasing student
achievement and closing achievement gaps that exist between students of
different races, ethnicities, incomes, and genders.   In order to
determine this CEP gathered data on state tests from 2002 to 2009 for
grades four, eight, and high-school tested grades, along with NAEP data
from 2005-2009.

The analysis points to several trends.

Achievement gaps are large and persistent. Gaps between white and
African American students remain, with African American students scoring
20 to 30 points lower than their white peers in 2009.  Furthermore,
Asian students also performed highly on state achievement tests, ousting
white students in most states.

For most student groups, gaps on state tests have narrowed since
2002.  Gaps on state tests narrowed more often for African American and
Latino students than it did for low-income and male students.  Another
fact worth noting is that achievement gaps narrowed in a majority of
states between African American and white students, and between Latino
and white students. 

While progress in narrowing the gap is encouraging, continuing at the
current rate of progress would take many years to close the gap.
Although gaps between subgroups have been narrowing across the country
they are doing so at different rates.  Latino/white student gaps have
narrowed more rapidly than any other subgroup, while progress in
narrowing the gap between boys and girls has evolved at a much slower
pace.  While the progress is encouraging there is much more work to be

The report also breaks down achievement results for each state.  In
Ohio, eighth grade math results were encouraging and demonstrated that
all major subgroups made gains, except for Asian students who remained
unchanged.  However, the results for eighth grade reading proficiency
were somewhat different.  At the basic proficiency level most subgroups
reported a gain, however declines in progress were reported among
above-proficient and advanced levels.  In math the gap narrowed in all
tested grades for all the major subgroups.   To read more about Ohio’s
results or to check out how others states are performing, find the
report on CEP’s website here.

Slow and Uneven Progress in Narrowing Gaps
Center on Education Policy
December 2010