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Disparities in academic achievement have been a problematic issue among students of different ethnic groups (Alexander, Entwisle,&Olson, 2007; Borba, 2009; Borman&Kimball, 2005; Boyd-Zaharias&Pate-Bain, 2008; Butler&Stevens, 2001; Wallitt, 2008; Zhang&Cowen, 2009). Since the implementation of the NCLB Act, the effectiveness of the law narrowing the achievement gap has been contradictory (Ceci, Papierno,&Mueller-Johnson, 2002; Johnston, 1997). Proponents of the NCLB Act maintain that Black and Hispanic students in fourth grade showed “higher average reading scores in comparison to 2005 and 1992” (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007, http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2007/2007496_2.pdf). Although Black students (203 points) and Hispanic students (205 points) narrowed the achievement gap by 11 and 16 points, White students (231 points) still maintained a average 27 point advantage in reading for 2007 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007, http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2007/2007496_2.pdf). The National Center for Education Statistics (2007) reported fourth grade students with LEP, averaged 188 points in Reading (Nations Report Card, http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata/).

Planty et al. (2009) indicated that nationally, fourth grade Hispanic students and Black students increased their mathematic scores in 2007, although a statistically significant difference was not present between Black students and White students in the 2005 and 2007 school year. Similarly, the White and Hispanic achievement gap increased in the 1990’s, but stabilized and did not narrow during the 2007 school year (Planty et al., 2009). (Grade 4 National Results, http://nationsreportcard.gov/math_2009/gr4_national.asp?subtab_id=Tab_7&tab_id=tab1#chart).

In each case and congruent with the extant literature, White students had statistically significant higher passing rates in both reading and in math than did Hispanic students. The gap between the passing rates for these two groups of students remained consistent across all 16 years of statewide data. As such, we believe that this lack of equity needs to be addressed.

To date, we contend that efforts such as the ESEA and the NCLB Act have not resulted in substantial improvements in the schooling lives of minority children. In our study, we have provided extensive documentation that the schooling lives of Hispanic children are not better as a result of the ESEA and the NCLB Act. An argument could be made that legislation such as the ESEA and the NCLB Act are good for appearance sake, but have no real substance. As such, the lack of equity is permitted to continue, if not, encouraged to continue. Accordingly, we contend that the previous segregation that occurred in school still exists, though now disguised. Prior to ESEA and the NCLB Act, members of minority groups demonstrated statistically significantly lower academic achievement scores than did White students. Years later, in fact decades later, the same achievement gap exists between members of minority groups and White students. The question that should be asked is, “Why do we continue to have a schooling system that continues the same old instructional practices in which minority group persons achieve at a poorer level than White students?” An answer to this question could be that these practices are deliberate and intentional.


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Source:  OpenStax, The achievement gap between white and non-white students. OpenStax CNX. Jan 10, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11402/1.4
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