WAMU 88.5 : News

Despite Gains On Tests, Achievement Gap In Region Grew Over Last Decade

Despite recent testing gains, educational achievement in the region remains distinctly unequal — and the gap between low-income students and their higher-income counterparts isn't narrowing.

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that while reading proficiency among fourth graders in D.C. increased from 2003 to 2013, the achievement gap increased by more than 30 percent in D.C. and 12 states — including Maryland and Virginia.

In 2003, 90 percent of all D.C. fourth graders rated below proficient on reading. A decade later, that number dropped to 77 percent, a 14 percent improvement, second only to Maryland nationally. But according to the report, by last year 87 percent of low-income fourth graders rated below proficient, while only 39 percent of higher-income students rated the same.

That trend held nationally over the same time period: while 66 percent of all fourth-graders were below proficient in reading in 2013, the percentages differed by race (whites at 55 percent, blacks at 83 percent) and income level (low-income at 80 percent, higher-income at 49 percent). Still, the growth of that gap was more pronounced in the 12 states and D.C. highlighted by the report.

Last November, D.C. officials cheered the news that D.C. students outpaced their counterparts across the country in math and reading improvements on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation's Report Card. But those same scores showed that D.C. still ranked behind all the states in overall scores, and that gains were tempered by a stubborn achievement gap between white and black students.

Early Reading Proficiency 2014

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Swapping The Street For The Orchard, City Dwellers Take Their Pick Of Fruit

Urban foragers don't just pick their meals from the trash; many eat only the finest, freshest produce — picked from city trees. The League of Urban Canners harvests fruit from trees to make jam.

Reconsidering The Pilgrims, Piety And America's Founding Principles

Conservatives who want to emphasize America's Christian roots embrace the story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact. But some historians say their role in the country's founding is overstated.

Someday A Helicopter Drone May Fly Over Mars And Help A Rover

NASA is building a 2-pound helicopter drone that would help guide the vehicle on the Red Planet's surface. That way, the rover wouldn't need to wander as much to find its way around.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.