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There is good news and not so good news.

A study from the Center on Education Policy analyzes the achievement gap between low-income students and their peers, and between minority and white students, using test data from all 50 states collected from 2002 through 2008. The report indicates thatAchievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students on state tests have narrowed in many instances over the past decade—continuing a trend that appears to have been bolstered in the 1990s by the standards-based-reform movement, concludes a wide-ranging analysis released today.

Viewing those gaps through a variety of lenses, the report finds that, on the whole, the disparities appear to be narrowing because of the accelerated achievement of lower-performing groups, not slower progress by high-achieving groups.

Nevertheless, achievement gaps continue to remain as large as 20 percentage points or more in some states, the report indicates.

The report does not provide any insight into whether the federal No Child Left Behind Act accelerated—or hindered—progress in closing the gaps. Much of the historical narrowing of achievement gaps predates the nearly 8-year-old law, and the study design does not account for the multitude of factors, such as changes to instruction or accountability policies, that may have influenced student progress during that time.

Across all the subgroups, grade levels, and subjects studied, 74 percent of the trend lines show the gaps in the percentage of students scoring at the “proficient” level narrowing, while 23 percent show them widening.

For the trend lines that show black-white score gaps narrowing, the percentage of students who were proficient grew at a faster rate for the African-American subgroup than for the white subgroup in 142 of the 153 cases.

Overall, the gaps narrowed more often for the black and Latino subgroups than for the Native American or low-income ones.

It should be interesting to see how the media picks on the good news coming out of schools. All too frequently they are in the “attack mode” whenever information about schools is released.

The actual statewide results can be accessed at

http://www.cep-dc.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=572

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