NAEP Scores Detail Hispanic Student Performance

Hispanic fourth- and eighth-graders made small gains in math and reading on the National Achievement of Educational Progress — known as the “Nation’s Report Card” — but achievement gaps remain a persistent problem.

The latest data released measured growth between 2011 and 2013.

Hispanic and black children still have not caught up to white children. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the achievement gaps are troubling, The Dallas Morning News reported. He used the opportunity to promote the expansion of preschool programs.

“The only way to significantly close the achievement gap is to stop playing catch-up (after students start regular classes) and increase access to early childhood education,” he said. “Why don’t we try fixing the problem before it begins?”

Hispanic fourth- and eighth-graders made progress in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress between 2011 and 2013, according to new data. Additionally, Hispanic eighth-graders scored higher in reading in 2013 than two years earlier.

You can access online data for more detailed performance data by state.

Related Links:

“U.S. Reading and Math Scores Show Slight Gains,” The New York Times.

“U.S. Students Show Incremental Progress on National Test,” The Washington Post.

“Texas Hispanic Students Lag in ‘Nation’s Report Card,'” The Dallas Morning News.

National Assessment of Educational Progress

New Report Critical of NCLB Waivers

States are obtaining federal waivers from meeting some of the more onerous provisions of  No Child Left Behind, raising concerns that achievement gaps may no longer be exposed. A new analysis by the Campaign for High School Equity finds that the waivers would essentially weaken the law.

The study finds that in 13 states that received waivers, including Nevada and New Mexico, the number of struggling schools requiring interventions has dropped by more than 100.

“This raises questions as to whether or not struggling students will receive the support and services they desperately need and deserve,” according to the group.

The group calls on states to make sure they are accountable for every individual student subgroup, whether that be by race and ethnicity, low-income status or English Language Learners.

The report raises concerns about states that are creating “super subgroups” in their new accountability systems that combine subgroups together into one group (for example mixing ELLs, black and Hispanic students) or create a subgroup based on achievement levels.

The report outlines details on the performance groups.

Related Links:

– “Study: Education Waivers Could Leave Behind At-Risk Students,” Associated Press.

– “At-Risk Students May Lose UNder NCLB Waivers, Civil RIghts Groups Say,” EdSource Today.

– “Analysis of Waivers Raises Serious Questions About How States Will Serve Students of Color,” Campaign for High School Equity.

Florida Race-Based Standards Prompt Complaint

Florida education officials are being challenged on their plan to evaluate Latino and black students based on much lower math and reading achievement goals than those set for white and Asian students.

Educators have long advocated for judging students based on growth, rather than a set cut score. A significant achievement gap still persists. But does that mean standards should be set lower for black and Hispanic children as a result?

When the standards were approved last October, a Florida Department of Education spokesperson said that officials felt they needed to take into account the groups’ “starting point.” The goals are set to go into effect in the 2013-14 school year.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday against the state’s race-based plan.

“The research is clear: Low expectations result in low achievement,” said Jerri Katzerman, SPLC deputy legal director, in a news release. “By setting lower expectations for black and Hispanic students, Florida is telling these students that it is their skin color – not their hard work and perseverance – that will determine their success in school. This plan will only widen the achievement gap in Florida classrooms.”

In reading, the passing goals set by 2018 are 74 percent for black students, 81 percent for Hispanic students, 88 percent for white students and 90 percent for Asian students. In math, the goals are 74 percent for black students, 80 percent for Hispanic students, 86 percent for white students and 92 percent for Asian students.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that one of the parties to the complaint, 14-year-old Robert Burns, who is black and has excelled on state exams, believes the goals should be 100 percent for all students.

“If you expect 60, I’ll give you 60. If you shoot for the moon, I’ll land on the stars,” he told the newspaper. “I’m more than what statistics or Florida thinks of me. When I found out they were going to set lower standards for me based on the color of my skin, I felt devastated. I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think it’s right.”

The 100 percent proficiency goal cited by Robert has been viewed as the hallmark of No Child Left Behind. Indeed , the complaint cites former President George W. Bush’s now famous quote condemning the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

However, Florida has performed well on performance standards with its Hispanic students. For example, an evaluation of student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that Florida students were strong-performers, when compared with students from other large states.

Additionally, a report from the National Center for Education Statistics also recently found that the Latino high school graduation rate was about 72 percent in Florida in 2010.

Related Links:

– “SPLC Files Complaint WIth DOJ Over Florida’s Race-Based Education Goals,” Orlando Sentinel.

– “Florida’s Race-Based Education Goals Discriminate, Complaint Alleges,” South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

– “Civil Rights Complaint Lodged Against Florida’s Student Achievement Plan,” Southern Poverty Law Center. 

– “Florida Sets Lower Achievement Goals for Latinos Than White Students,” Latino Ed Beat.

States Vary in Preparedness for Common Core Standards’ Impact on Latinos

Sates have widely varying degrees of preparedness for the implementation of common core standards — and in particular their impact on low-income, Latino and black students.

A new report by the Education Trust, “Uneven at the Start,” identifies the best- and least-prepared states at  phasing in the more rigorous reading and math standards to serve different student populations. The group used performance data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam to predict how states will fare. It examines both improvement and performance of each state on NAEP exams, including in fourth- and eighth- grade reading and math performance, compared against the national average.

With Latino students, Texas and Massachusetts performed best. Florida also performed well.

Meanwhile, Oregon  and California had the weakest record with Hispanic students. The two states are improving slowly when compared against other states, and have performed worse than the national average across several subject areas and age levels. According to the analysis, neither state in any category is above the national average for Hispanics.

The analysis found that no state had above average performance and improvement for Hispanic students across all the subject and grade levels.

“…Instead of just pretending that the same amount of effort will be required everywhere to get children to the new standards, we need to make sure that the lessons from states that have improved the most for all groups of children inform implementation work more broadly and ensure that struggling states have the extra help they will need to build the forward momentum that is already present elsewhere,” said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, in a news release.

The report has charts that break out where each state falls within the spectrum of performance.

Related Links:

– “Uneven at the Start: Differences in State Track Records Foreshadow Challenges and Opportunities for Common Core,” The Education Trust. 

– “New Analyses Examine State Track Records in Performance and Improvement,” The Education Trust.

Report Cards Grade California School Districts on Latino Achievement

States grade their school districts each year based on accountability tests and other factors. In California, The Education Trust-West has created its own report cards for the state’s largest 148 school districts. The group proved to be a pretty tough grader.

The report noted that the highest overall grade of a B was earned by Baldwin Park Unified school district. Most districts received grades of Cs and Ds, leaving plenty of room for improvement.

The group’s evaluation focuses on the academic achievement and graduation rates of three targeted groups: Latinos, African-Americans, and low-income students. The four categories are performance, academic improvement over five years, the size of the achievement gap, and college readiness.

The Education Trust makes a number of recommendations to the state based on its findings:

– Report data on achievements gaps between groups, so the public is better informed on the issue.

– Analyze district, school, and subgroup improvement scores, therefore showing progress made over time.

– Focus more on college readiness

The report also noted that successful districts tended to use data to make decisions, zeroing in  down to the classroom teacher, grade level, school and district level. In addition, successful districts tended to focus on parent involvement.

Related Links:

– “Ed Trust-West Releases Third Annual Report Cards Grading the 148 Largest Unified Districts on Outcomes for Latino, African-American and Low-Income Students.” The Education Trust-West.

– California District Report Cards.

– “Sanger Unified’s grad rates lauded in education report,” The Fresno Bee.

– “Many Bay Area districts fail to adequately education low-income and minority students, report finds,” Contra Costa Times.

Latino Test Performance Varies Significantly by State

It’s often said that the zip code a child is born into is a strong predictor of their future academic performance and the quality of education that they will receive. But perhaps the same can be said about the state where a child is born.

The New York Times recently reported on an analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics of the five states with the largest populations, showing the different performance levels of Latino students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam.

Those “mega-states” studied are California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. Th five states enroll more than half of the country’s English language learners, a total of 2.9 million–nearly 1.5 million of whom are in California. They also enroll about 40 percent of the nation’s public school students, or 18.7 million students.

NAEP scores are seen as the best tool by which to compare academic performance across state lines.

One notable headline: California Latino students struggled considerably across the board, while Florida and Texas were strong-performers. While the analysis also shows that Latino students continue to lag white students considerably in performance on the tests (full report here), there was considerable variation in Latino performance between states.

The percentage of Latino eighth-graders performing at the proficient level or above in math in 2011 are below, with Texas leading the nation:

California: 13%, Florida: 22%; Illinois: 19%; New York: 13%; Texas: 31%; Nation: 20%.

And the performance of Latino eighth-graders proficient or higher in reading in 2011, in which Florida and Illinois led the nation:

California: 14%; Florida: 27%; Illinois: 23%; New York: 20%; Texas: 17%; Nation: 18%.

The performance of fourth-graders proficient or higher in math, in which Florida and Texas leading:

California: 17%; Florida: 31%; Illinois: 20%; New York: 20%; Texas: 29%. Nation: 24%.

The performance of  Latino fourth-graders proficient or higher in reading was as follows in 2011, with Florida leading:

California: 12%;  Florida: 30%Illinois: 18%; New York: 20%; Texas: 19%; Nation: 18%.

And here is the performance of Latino fourth-graders proficient or higher in science in 2009, with Texas and Florida leading:

California: 8%; Florida: 23%; Illinois: 10%; New York: 13%; Texas: 16%; Nation: 13%

And the performance of Latino eighth-graders proficient or higher in science, with Texas leading the nation:

California: 11%; Florida: 24%; Illinois: 11%; New York: 12%; Texas: 23%; Nation: 16%.

Jack Buckley, commissioner of the NCES, said there was no “consistent pattern among these states,” The Times reported. And that, “each state seems to have areas where it shines and others where they lag behind its counterparts.”

The analysis includes the data broken out by other racial/ethnic categories and factors such as income and ELL status.

Learn more about the analysis of performance in the top five largest states here.

Related Links:

– “Test Scores of Hispanics Vary Widely Across 5 Most Populous States, Analysis Shows,” The New York Times. 

– Mega-States: An Analysis of Student Performance in the Five Most Heavily Populated States in the Nation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fla. Sets Lower Achievement Goals for Latinos than White Students

There’s no question that an achievement gap still exists between white and Hispanic students. But does that mean goals for Latino students should differ from those set for white students?

The Florida State Board of Education recently set goals for black and Latino students that are lower than those set for white and Asian students. That decision — to set academic proficiency goals that differ by race and ethnicity —  is stirring controversy, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Officials set benchmarks for the percentages of students they want to be at or above their math grade level by 2018:  74 percent of blacks, 80 percent of Hispanics, 86 percent of white students and 92 percent of Asian students.

They set similar goals for students to be at or above reading at grade level: 74 percent of blacks, 81 percent of Hispanics, 88 percent of whites and 90 percent of Asian students. The paper reports that currently only 53 percent of Hispanic students are reading at grade level, compared with 69 percent of white students.

Goals are also set lower for English language learners.

The differences in goals prompted officials from the Urban League to criticize the race-based goals. But state officials say they are useful.

“Of course we do want every student to be successful,” Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters told the newspaper. “But we do have to take into account their starting point.”

The Daily Record reports that some board members expressed concern before the goals were voted on.

“If Asians can have a goal of 90 percent in reading, why can’t whites, and other subcategories?” the paper reported member John Padget as saying. “So I would just ask my fellow board members if we are happy with the signal this sends.”

Related Links:

“Florida public school students will be judged in part by race and ethnicity.” South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“Fla. education board OKs race-based academic plan.” Daily Record.

MALDEF Investigates Latino Achievement Gap in New Mexico

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund  is investigating the lagging academic performance of Latino students in New Mexico. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the civil rights group is probing the substantial achievement gap between Hispanic and white students and how it relates to state funding. Given the announcement, some are wondering whether MALDEF plans to sue the state.

About 48 percent of  Latino third-graders in New Mexico are proficient in reading, compared with 69 percent of white students, the newspaper reported. Latino students make up about 70 percent of the state’s public school students.

News 4/KOB in New Mexico reported that Gov. Susana Martinez agreed that closing the achievement gap for Hispanics is a top priority, but that students of all backgrounds in the state need help. The state’s public education secretary, Hannah Skandera, told the station that efforts are underway to address the problem. “We require every school across the state to demonstrate and provide evidence of a plan of closing the achievement gap,” Skandera said. “We have not done these things before in our state. It really is a resounding commitment. I applaud MALDEF for taking their position on this.”

The recent annual “Kids Count” report on child well-being by the Annie E. Casey Foundation recently found that New Mexico ranks 49th in the nation in education.

Related Links:

– “Group investigates ‘achievement gap.'” Albuquerque Journal. 

– “National civil rights group claims Hispanic students deserve better in schools.” KOB.

– “Education report gives state nods, knocks.” Santa Fe New Mexican.

– KIDS COUNT profile for New Mexico.

– MALDEF.

Hispanic Students Narrow Science Achievement Gap on NAEP Exam

The achievement gap between Latino and white eighth-graders in science is narrowing, according to  National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data released on Thursday.

Between 2009 and 2011, average science scores among Hispanic students increased by five points, compared with a three-point increase for black students and one point increase for white students.

A proficient score is a 170 out of a 300-point scale. Hispanic students’ scores grew to 137, compared with an average 163 for white students and 129 for black students. The average score for English language learners was 106. While the improvement is a bright spot, American students still struggle with science. Only about 32 percent of students scored “proficient” or higher on exams.

The interim head of the National Science Teachers Association, Gerry Wheeler, called the gains “miniscule,” the Associated Press reported. “When you consider the importance of being scientifically literate in today’s global economy, these scores are simply unacceptable,” Wheeler said.

The exam, known as “the nation’s report card,” is based on a sample of 122,000 eighth-graders from across the country.

Read the full report here. Some states performed better with Latinos than others. Florida, with an average score for Latino students of 144, and Texas, with 146, performed better than the national average. California, with an average of 128, and Arizona, with 132, were below the national average.

You can delve into state-level data here.