Phi Beta Cons

More on NYC’s Racial Gaps in Scores

In her follow-up to the post I noted yesterday, Eduwonkette has an observation with ramifications far beyond New York:

If there is trouble in Gotham, it can be summarized in a few lines: best case scenario, the black-white achievement gap in 8th grade math achievement won’t close for 21 years, and the Hispanic-white achievement gap won’t close for 36 years. But here’s the catch: these projections only hold if white students make no progress.

That’s a major problem with our obsession with “gaps”: No matter why a gap exists, it can only close if one group improves at a greater rate than another. Sometimes this is possible, and even happens naturally, but it’s a long process.
And not to mention difficult to engineer. Not only have New York’s efforts failed, but they haven’t even stopped things from heading in the opposite direction:

The gaps separating black and Hispanic students from their Asian peers appear to be growing, at least in the 8th grade. Though only the growth in the Asian-Hispanic achievement gap is statistically significant, the growth in this gap from 2003 to 2007 is suggestive of a troubling trend:

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