Thursday, December 13, 2012

U.S. Achievement Gap Evident in International Assessments

On Tuesday, we took a look at how 4th and 8th graders in the US compare to other countries in educational attainment (on one specific measure each for reading, math and science). While I have some questions about the extent to which these assessments measure a representative population of the U.S. (and I'm in the process of hopefully finding that answer), I think it's significant to note that the achievement gap is prevalent across our country as a whole.

This data most likely doesn't come as a huge surprise to many readers of this blog. However, I'm including it to highlight that the challenges we face with closing the achievement gap in Berkeley exist throughout our country. The unique situation about Berkeley is that we have the achievement gap existing WITHIN THE SAME SCHOOLS, rather than between different schools in the same city or district (which is the case for the vast majority of schools in our country).

As you can see, Black and Hispanic students are performing lower than their white and Asian peers.




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There is also a DIRECT correlation between the number of students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch at a school and that school's overall performance on the reading assessment:




The charts for reading scores are found in the report Highlights from PIRLS 2011 from the National Center for Educational Statistics. The charts for math and science scores are found in the report Highlights from TIMSS 2011 from the National Center for Educational Statistics.  

The good news is that we have incredible leaders working together to figure out how to solve this problem- both in Berkeley and across our nation (and internationally). We must leverage what works so that we can accelerate the change that needs to take place so that the students in our city are ALL receiving an excellent education. 

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