WASHINGTON —- Educators are expressing alarm that the performance gap between minority and white high school students continues to expand across the United States, with minority teenagers performing at academic levels equal to or lower than those of 30 years ago.
Despite the hope that improving education for children of color would propel them to better life outcomes, Latino and African-American students are not being prepared in high school classrooms for brighter futures. While achievement levels have improved considerably for minority elementary and middle school students, educators say their academic performance drops during high school years.
The Education Trust says African-American and Latino students have made little to no progress in 12th-grade reading scores since 1994, continuing to lag behind white students. Math achievement has also remained flat, with the gap between white students and those of color widening.
Educators cite these causes for the disparity in performance:
- Lowered expectations for students of color
- Growing income inequality and lack of resources in low-income school districts
- Unequal access to experienced teachers
- An increased number of “out of field” teachers instructing minority students in subjects outside their area of expertise
- Unconscious bias” by teachers and administrators.
- These factors, experts say, produce an opportunity gap for students of color.
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