Research Finds Black Elementary School Students Are Catching Up to Whites in Reading Achievement

A study conducted by scholars at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan has found that in addition to the well-publicized achievement gaps between white and black students, there are significant education gaps within racial and ethnic groups.

The study, presented recently at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness in Washington, contended that these intraracial achievement gaps tend to disappear as children progress through elementary school.

The research showed that there were significant differences in reading scores among the group of black students in kindergarten. But by the time black students reached the fifth grade, the reading scores of the low-performing kindergarten students had caught up to the scores of the high-performing group. Furthermore, the percentage of black students in the high-performing group in fifth grade was only slightly below the percentage of white students who scored at high levels.

The authors of the report conclude that the nation’s elementary schools are doing a good job in increasing reading achievement among students of all races and that schooling tends to produce a relative degree of racial equality.

But the results also showed that very few black students start out in the high-performing group in mathematics at the kindergarten level. And very few have progressed into the high-performing group by fifth grade.