A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation finds that nationwide only 18 percent of African American fourth graders were proficient in reading and only 19 percent were proficient in mathematics. For African American eighth graders the numbers were even lower with 15 proficient in reading and 12 percent in mathematics. The good news is that these numbers have improved over the past 20 years. But proficiency rates for African American students continue to be only about half the rate for all students in these grades.
Some states have made substantial progress while others have lagged. Arizona showed the highest proficiency rates for African American fourth graders while Massachusetts had the high proficiency rate for African American eighth graders in mathematics and Hawaii led the rankings for reading.
At the other end of the spectrum, Alabama and Michigan had the lowest proficiency scores for African Americans in mathematics. Michigan also had the lowest rate for African American fourth graders in reading while Arkansas and Mississippi had the lowest proficiency ratings for eighth graders in reading.
The report also ranks the states on the high school graduation rates for African American students. Texas led the way with a Black student graduation rate of 84 percent. Among other states with large numbers of Black students, the best high school graduation rates were in Arkansas, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
The lowest Black high school graduate rate of 57 percent was in Nevada and Oregon. Michigan, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia also had very low graduation rates for Black high school students.
The full report, The Path Forward: Improving Opportunities for African American Students, may be downloaded by clicking here.