Gaps of the day: Hispanic-white math


As we continue through Minnesota’s equity gaps, we’re still looking at performance, which reports comparative data for gaps between Hispanic and white students as well as the black-white gaps we’ve already examined. Again, Minnesota’s attention to these equity gaps should not depend on whether or not we have “the biggest” in the country. What matters is that the inequities exist at all.

(Data from NAEP)

These are the gaps in NAEP math scores for white and Hispanic students, as identified by the National Center for Education Statistics (and distinguishing “white” as “white, non-Hispanic,” as is typical).

Again, we see D.C. with the biggest gap through a combination of low scores for Hispanic students and very high scores for white students. Even if D.C. had the same scores for 4th grade Hispanic students as Maryland (which has the highest), the D.C. gap would still be 27 points. That would still be the third biggest gap in the country. If D.C. had Montana’s country-leading 8th grade scores for Hispanic students, its gap would be 34 points, and it would still tie for the largest gap. I raise these points as a reminder that we need to look beyond gap size alone to figure out what’s going on in a particular state or jurisdiction.

As for Minnesota, our 4th grade math gap is the sixth largest in the country (as a reminder, our black-white gap for the same subject and grade was seventh largest). Our 8th grade math gap is the fourth largest in the country (it was ninth for the black-white gap).

While Kentucky has the smallest 4th grade gap, Maryland has the highest scores for Hispanic students (and they are slightly higher than the scores of white students in Kentucky). Similarly, in 8th grade, Mississippi has the smallest gap, but Montana has the highest scores for Hispanic students (and they are slightly higher than the scores of white students in Mississippi).

Though I didn’t include it on the graph, Minnesota’s scores for Hispanic students are only 24th in the country for both 4th and 8th grade. Now that we’re halfway through the NAEP gaps, it should be growing clear that Minnesota does have work to do. Even if you don’t accept test scores as a valid indicator of equity problems, we’ll see in future graphs that they do correlate with other equity indicators in our state.