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Chapter 3: Achievement

This chapter focuses on different measures of academic achievement for elementary and secondary students. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment, the White-Black achievement gap at grade 4 narrowed from 32 points in 1992 to 26 points in 2015; the White-Hispanic gap in 2015 (24 points) was not measurably different from the gap in 1992 (Indicator 9). At grade 8, the White-Black gap in 2015 (26 points) was not measurably different from the gap in 1992; the White-Hispanic gap narrowed from 26 points in 1992 to 21 points in 2015.

On the NAEP mathematics assessment, the White-Black achievement gap at grade 4 narrowed from 32 points in 1990 to 24 points in 2015; the White-Hispanic gap in 2015 was not measurably different from the gap in 1990 (Indicator 10). At grade 8, there was no measurable difference in the White-Black achievement gap in 2015 and 1990, and the same was true of the White-Hispanic gap.

Indicator 11 examines student absences from school. In 2015, the percentage of 8th-grade students who reported that they had zero absences from school in the last month was higher for Asian students (65 percent) than for students who were Pacific Islander (47 percent), Black (45 percent), of Two or more races (45 percent), White (44 percent), Hispanic (44 percent), or American Indian/Alaska Native (32 percent). For the most part, 8th-grade students who had zero absences in the last month had higher mathematics assessment scores than students with more absences.

Another way to measure student progress is by the courses that students complete in high school. From a sample of students who were 9th-graders in 2009, a higher percentage of Asian students (45 percent) than students of any other racial/ethnic group earned their highest math course credit in calculus by 2013 (Indicator 12). The percentage earning their highest math course credit in calculus was also higher for White students (18 percent) than for students of Two or more races (11 percent), Hispanic students (10 percent), and Black students (6 percent).

High school students who take Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in high school are eligible to earn college credit for those courses. In 2013, a higher percentage of Asian students had earned any AP/IB credits than White students (72 vs. 40 percent). The percentages of Asian and White students earning these credits were higher than the percentages of students of any other racial/ethnic group earning them (Indicator 13). In contrast, Black students had the lowest percentage of students earning any AP/IB credits.