It is no secret that our nation’s achievement gap is significant. The odds that a white or upper class student succeeds in public schools is significantly higher than the odds of an African-American, Latino, or low-income student receiving the same benefits. And as frightening as the size of the gaps may be, the persistence of such gaps are even more damaging.
From 1998 to 2009, the portion of black students passing Virginia Standards of Learning tests in Arlington rose from 37 to 77 percent. For Hispanic students, the jump was from 47 to 84 percent. The gap between non-Hispanic white and black passing rates dropped from 45 percentage points to 19. Between Hispanic and non-Hispanic whites, the gap shrank from 35 points to 12.
He insisted on measuring each major ethnic group, plus low-income students, students with disabilities and students learning English, on: the percentage passing first-year algebra with a C or better by the end of eighth grade; the percentage passing advanced courses in grades six through 12; the percentage completing the third year of a foreign language by the end of grade 11; the percentage of sixth- through eighth-graders taking electives in art, music and theater, the percentage meeting or exceeding criterion levels on the Virginia Wellness-Related Fitness Tests, and several other measures.