State report finds racial/ethnic gap in math proficiency on state tests

The Associated Press (AP) reports in the Beatrice Daily Sun that African-American, Hispanic and American Indian students in Nebraska’s public schools are trailing their Asian and white peers in math, according to a breakdown of statewide test results recently released.

Nebraska Education Commissioner Roger Breed said he expects the first-year math scores to improve, as they have in other subjects. But he said the results demonstrate a need for introducing math concepts earlier, increasing course requirements and developing strategies to help all students. “Performance on the math standards is not where we’d like it to be,” Breed said. “But I’m also encouraged by the response I’m seeing by teachers and school districts that now have access to this information. It informs what they need to do.”

The Nebraska Department of Education State of the Schools Report compiles test scores and demographic information from each of the state’s 249 public school districts. Nearly two out of three white and Asian 11th graders tested proficient in math, according to the results. Math proficiency among African-American students declined consistently with each advancing grade level. Nearly half of the black third-graders measured proficient, compared to one in five 11th-graders. Roughly one-third of American Indian students in each grade level registered as proficient. With the exception of fourth- and fifth-graders, fewer than half of the Hispanic students tested met the math standard.

The results were based on new statewide, uniform tests. The Legislature adopted the new system after the U.S. Department of Education said Nebraska failed to show its local assessments accurately measured student achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Source: Beatrice Daily Sun, 10/19/11, By AP

[Editor's Note: The Nebraska Department of Education report is available here. In October 2011, Legal Clips summarized an AP article in Education Week reporting that a 19-month civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Education had found that Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) failed to provide an equal education to English-learners and African-American students, resulting in wide academic disparities. LAUSD agreed to remedy the disparities through a variety of measures.]

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