In today’s installment of our ongoing “Gaps of the Day” series, we look at National Assessment of Educational Progress scores in reading for white and Hispanic students. Once again, a reminder that our willingness to act should not depend on whether we have “the biggest gap in the country.”
(Data from NAEP)
By now, we have a few trends to look for.
Trend 1: Minnesota has one of the ten largest test score gaps in the country.
What was true in both 4th and 8th grade for the black-white gaps in math and reading, as well as for the Hispanic-white gaps in math, is only half true here. While the 4th grade Hispanic-white reading gap is the 8th largest in the country, the 8th grade gap is actually slightly smaller than the national average and puts Minnesota in 27th place.
Trend 2: D.C. has the highest test score gap in the country.
This trend continues to hold up, and again we see that it’s a combination of low scores for Hispanic students and high scores for white students.
Trend 3: Concerns about equity should include performance as well as gap size.
As we can see, the 4th grade gap in Massachusetts in only slightly smaller than that in Minnesota, yet scores for both Hispanic and white students are markedly higher. They’re also higher than the national average, despite the Bay State’s larger than average score gap. Similarly, look at the 8th grade gaps for New Jersey and Hawaii. New Jersey’s gap is slightly larger, but its scores for both groups are higher.
Some of these trends will continue as we move into income score gaps and graduation gaps, but others will grow more complicated. This should be a reminder to all of us that the equity issues in each state need to be treated as more nuanced than simply a matter of gap size.