ETS Report Notes Arrested Progress in Closing Black-White Achievement Gap: For decades, the persistent achievement gap between Black and White students has vexed educators, policymakers and researchers. Equally troubling is the fact that there had been progress—significant improvement throughout the 1970s and ‘80s—that came to an abrupt halt.
A 39-point gap in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test scores between Black and White 13-year-olds in 1971, for instance, fell to 18 points by 1988. The gap widened in the 1990s before falling to a 21-point difference in 2008. The average math score of Whites in this same age group was 46 points higher than that of Black students in 1971. The gap narrowed to a 24-point difference in 1986.
Researchers at Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) Policy Information Center set out to explain the factors that contributed to those gains and the reasons progress halted, drawing on existing and new data to examine the role declining neighborhoods, race-neutral policies, concentrated poverty and single-parent family structures, among other things, play on children's achievement.