June 11, 2001

Persistent Education Achievement Gap

On June 5, the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released The Condition of Education 2001 study. Secretary of Education Rod Paige noted that the study clearly shows that America is "far from where we need to be in terms of student performance. We are failing to close the persistent achievement and attainment gaps-and we lag behind other developed nations in mathematics and science achievement . . . "

The study found that the achievement gap between academic performance and education participation among different racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups is unrelenting. This gap begins early and continues throughout a student's career.

Other findings:

  • Scores for 17 year olds have not improved.

  • Long-term data show some decrease in the performance gap between whites and blacks up to 1988, but no change since then.

  • Fourteen other industrialized nations outperformed U.S. students on the 1999 Third International mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS-R).

  • More high school graduates are enrolling in college, sooner, and for longer periods of time.

  • College enrollment for women is expected to continue increasing faster than that for men.

"More education spending is not the answer to America's education woes," says HSLDA's Caleb Kershner, Manager of Federal Research and Policy. "Despite our nation's increased education spending and extended college education, our education system continues to decline."

"That is why so many families have turned to a low cost (an average of $600/student per year), but highly effective alternative---home education. This combination of old-fashioned hard work and parental involvement has resulted in well-rounded students who score 20-30 percentile points above average on achievement tests."

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