Students of Color and the Achievement Gap
Over fifty years after Brown vs. Board of Education, there are still great disparities between students of color and white students in academic achievement. Students of color are disproportionately represented in the nation's dropout statistics: of the more than 1.2 million students who fail to graduate from high school on time each year, more than half are students of color, despite the fact that these students make up less than 40 percent of the high school population. Only 57.8 percent of Latino students, 53.4 percent of African American students, and 49.3 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native students entering ninth grade earn a high school diploma four years later. Though the graduation rate for Asian American students is 80.2 percent-roughly four percentage points higher than the white student average-students from some ethnic subgroups, like Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders, do not fare as well academically.
Students of color are much more likely to attend schools with inadequate resources and high concentrations of poverty than white students. Additionally, in schools where at least 75 percent of the students are from low-income households, there are three times as many out-of-field teachers teaching English and science as there are in wealthier schools.
In the face of such inequities, it is hardly a surprise that an achievement gap exists. On the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as The Nation's Report Card, just 19 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native eighth graders, 14 percent of Hispanic eighth graders, and 12 percent of African American eighth graders scored at or above proficient in reading, compared to 38 percent of white and 40 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander American eighth graders.
Many groups and organizations are concerned about and active in working toward improvement in educational outcomes for students of color. Recently, an unprecedented partnership was formed around issues related to high school policy and the challenges facing minority students when the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE) was launched in June 2007. A coalition of nine of the nation's foremost civil rights organizations and the Alliance for Excellent Education, CHSE is working to ensure that all students, especially students of color, receive the quality education they deserve.