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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Key Findings from the School Composition and the Black-White Achievement Gap Report​ ​​


Key Findings

On average, White students attended schools that were 9 percent Black while Black students attended schools that were 48 percent Black, indicating a large difference in average Black st​udent density nationally.

Analysis of the relationship between the percentage of students in a school who were Black and achievement showed the following:

  • Achievement for both Black and White students was lower in the highest Black student density schools than in the lowest density schools.
  • However, the achievement gap was not different

However, when accounting for factors such as student socioeconomic status (SES) and other student, teacher, and school characteristics that other researchers have found related to students’ academic achievement, the analysis found:

  • White student achievement in schools with the highest Black student density did not differ from White student achievement in schools with the lowest density.
  • For Black students overall, and Black males in particular, achievement was still lower in the highest density schools than in the lowest density schools.
  • The Black–White achievement gap was larger in the highest density schools than in the lowest density schools.
  • Conducting analysis by gender, the Black–White achievement gap was larger in the highest density schools than in the lowest density schools for males but not for females.

In a separate analysis, the report estimated the extent to which the Black–White achievement gap could be attributed to between- versus within-school differences in achievement. The value of this analysis is to inform the actions of those who are concerned with improving student achievement and reducing the achievement gap. Results of this analysis showed that:

  • Nationally and in most of the states examined, the portion of the Black–White achievement gap attributed to within-school differences in achievement was larger than the portion attributed to between-school differences.
  • There was, however, a portion of the gap that could not definitively be attributed to either within- or between-school differences alone. This portion was labeled “indeterminate.”​

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Summary Data Tables

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Last updated 06 August 2015 (DS)