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Black, White Performance Gap Widens, Study Finds

Black, White Performance Gap Widens, Study Finds Performance gaps between Blacks and Whites ages 13-17 widened between 1988 and 1999, leading to lower pay, higher unemployment levels for equal levels of education, higher dropout rates and lower test scores, according to a recent study released by the U.S. Department of Education.
In the “Status and Trends in the Education of Blacks” report, the department’s National Center for Education Statistics reviewed two decades of government research gathered by various government agencies. The report found that more Blacks have completed high school and gone on to college than in the past, however, they don’t advance at the same rate as their White peers.
In the year 2000, about one-third of 18- to 24-year-old Blacks went to college, an improvement from the 19 percent rate of 20 years ago. However, Blacks represent only 11 percent of college students, a percentage far below expectations based on the nation’s population. Meanwhile, 5 percent of university faculty are Black, and they are more likely to be assistant professors and instructors than professors or associate professors.
Education Secretary Roderick Paige commented on the report’s findings at a speech before the Mississippi Association of Colleges.
“The situation would be much worse without our historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which continue to be extremely valuable, as can be evidenced by the fact that one-fourth of Blacks in college are in HBCUs, and these institutions have produced some of our finest graduates and keenest minds,” Paige said.
The report found several areas of progress. Long-term trends in the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores showed increased performance in reading for Black students between 1971 and 1999, as well as long-term improvements in math and science scores. In 1999, Black students were more likely than White students to report discussing the national news and watching or listening to the national news with others.
Between 1975 and 2000, the proportion of Blacks completing college increased, but Blacks still remained less likely than Whites to earn degrees. The report also found that most Black students attend public schools in which minorities represent the majority of the student body. Also, in 1999, rates of Black students being held back and suspended or expelled were much higher than those of White and Hispanic students.
To access a copy of the report online visit the National Center for Education Statistics’ Web site at and enter the publication number: 2003034.

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