Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Black-white achievement gap makes little progress since 1960s

Figure. Regional achievement gaps in 1965 and 2013

In a new Education Next article, Eric Hanushek of Stanford University finds that recent black-white achievement gaps in reading and math are nearly as large as they were in 1965, when 87 percent of white 12th graders placed ahead of the average black 12th grader in math and reading—a gap of 1.1 standard deviations (s.d.). Fifty years later, the achievement gap between the average white 12th grader and the average black 12th grader has only narrowed to 0.9 s.d. in math and 0.8 s.d. in reading.

Hanushek estimates that if improvements continue at the same rate as seen since 1965, it will be two and a half centuries until racial achievement gaps are closed in math and over one and a half centuries for them to close in reading.

Hanushek’s analysis also examines and updates the Coleman Report’s conclusions on how family background and school resources influence student achievement.

“What Matters for Student Achievement: Updating Coleman on the influence of families and schools” is available now on and will appear in the Spring 2016 issue of Education Next.

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