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Test-score gap widens between white, black students in Chicago

Updated: January 20, 2014 8:11AM

The performance gap between Chicago’s black and white students — and between its poorest students and their wealthier classmates — continues to widen, newly released data show.

Black Chicago Public Schools students fell further behind whites in three of four key measures, according to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the Nation’s Report Card.

And students who qualify for free school lunches — traditionally a measure of poverty — also fell behind in three of the four tests of grade- and middle-school kids’ ability in reading and math.

“To close the achievement gap, CPS will continue to invest our efforts in identifying and supporting students of all backgrounds who have fallen behind their peers, ensuring that every child in every community in Chicago is prepared for college, career and life,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.

CPS has identified four priority groups that have become the focus for improvement: blacks, Latinos, students learning English and those with disabilities.

The sobering statistics published Wednesday included a few bright spots for CPS officials.

Despite the widening race gap, Chicago recorded the joint biggest fourth-grade math bump in the nation.

CPS officials attributed that gain to “a series of reforms to boost student learning,” the district said in a statement. That includes early childhood programs and implementation of rigorous Common Core standards.

“Thanks to the hard work of teachers, principals and families, our students continue to make meaningful progress, but we still have a long way to go for every child to be 100 percent college ready and college bound,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

The report shows that despite steady improvements over the last decade, Chicago still lags behind most major U.S. cities in math and reading at the fourth- and eighth-grade levels.

The gap in fourth-grade math test scores between black and white students in Chicago widened to 40 points — the largest gap since the national study began in 2003, and significantly wider than the 31-point gap in the average major U.S. city.

Though the average white student was graded as “proficient” with “solid academic performance” in fourth-grade math, the average black student was just over the threshold for “basic” understanding, or a “partial mastery” at that stage, according to the report.

About 8,000 CPS students participated in the test, which is administered every two years.

Contributing: Tina Sfondeles


Twitter: @schlikerman

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