The Achievement Gap
At MAS, we believe that all students deserve equal access to a high-quality education. Education is the best equalizer we have. It has the power to lead children and families out of poverty, to jump-start fulfilling careers that pay strong wages, and lift up entire communities. But the reality is that, while all students have access to education, the high-quality standard is a missing piece--and it’s a critical one. While our educational system is built on good intentions, millions of children across the country and thousands of children right here in our community face unconscionable educational inequities.
By and large, low-income, minority, and special populations of students, including English language learners and students with disabilities, do not achieve the same levels of educational performance as their peers. In the education world, this is known as the achievement gap, and it has serious implications for the future life opportunities of students and for society as a whole. When we fail to educate all children, the outcome is predictable: increased drop-out rates, poverty, crime, teen pregnancy, incarceration, decreased productivity, lack of adequate healthcare, and overall poorer quality of life.
What We're Up Against
- The Annie E. Casey Foundation reports that children who live in poverty are three times more likely to drop out of school, compared to their more wealthy classmates. A poor-quality education only compounds the situation: for those who both live in poverty and read below grade level by 3rd grade are six times more likely to not graduate from high school. For black and Hispanic students, that probability climbs to eight times more likely to not finish high school (AECF, 2011).
- Similarly, Hispanic English language learners, who comprise the largest group of ELLs, have the lowest graduation rate of all student subgroups (Ruiz-de-Velasco & Fix, 2000). At over 17%, New Mexico has one of the highest proportions of ELL students, surpassed only by California at 24.6% (Migration Policy Institute, 2015).
- The National Center for Education Statistics shows that, while dropout rates have been on the decline, by 2016 rates among Native American and Hispanic students remain the highest, at 10% and 6.4% for Hispanic boys and girls, respectively, and 11.6% and 8.5% for Native American boys and girls (NCES, 2018).
- In their 2018 report, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), in 2015–16, 69.9 % of the students ages 14 through 21 who exited the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) program graduated with a regular high school diploma; 17.5% dropped out. However, students with emotional and behavioral disorders that constitute disabilities categorized as “emotional disturbance” have seen dropout rates of 30% or higher for the last decade.
- According to Editorial Projects in Education Research Center’s Annual Diplomas Count Report, while 82.7% of Asian students and 78.4 % of White students in the class of 2008 graduated on time, that was the case for only 57.6% of Hispanic, 57% of Black, and 53.9% of American Indian students. Likewise, only 68% of male students graduated on time in 2008, compared with 75% of female students. Over the long term, only about one half of male students from minority backgrounds graduate on time (Education Week, 2011).