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State needs more than a century to close achievement gap

A student gets help with his schoolwork in a Seattle program for at-risk youth
Seattle Office for Education
A student gets help with his schoolwork in a Seattle program for at-risk youth

Washington is finally making progress on closing the achievement gap between different groups of students, but researchers say it’s not all good news.  A new report found that the gains mean some students will still lag behind for more than a century.

The report from the Center on Education Policy, shows that each year, African American students are only gaining on their white peers by a fraction of a point on 4th grade reading and math tests.  At that rate, it’ll take 105 years to bring them up to the same level.   

“There’s a few other states that have a timetable that would be as long, but not many,” says Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy.

He says in order to make significant progress, results would have to be at least 10 times better.  And that’s for groups that are making gains. 

“The especially bad news for Washington State is the gap between Native American and white students has actually widened," Jennings says. "You don’t know how far it’s going to widen before you can even estimate how long it’ll take to close it.”

The report also found that girls are outpacing boys in reading.  Girls have also caught up with boys on math tests.

Charla joined us in January, 2010 and is excited to be back in Seattle after several years in Washington, DC, where she was a director and producer for NPR. Charla has reported from three continents and several outlets including Marketplace, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. She has a master of journalism from University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Washington.