Yes, we talk about the many achievement gaps that exist in our schools. We tackle these ‘gaps’ with rigorous effect. And many learners improve and many learners do not.
Often the improvement is incremental as opposed to dramatic. A given student or group of students in a specific subgroup improves from 39% proficiency to 43% proficiency and the improvement is acknowledged.
The biggest overall group of learners whose achievement lags is – children of poverty. Thus, I suggest that when someone (politician, neighbor, work colleague, or friend) wants to talk about the failings of public education (public education is where the vast majority of our poor students are served) that we bring up the U.S. government census. According to the census data released in 2011 Child Poverty in the United States 2009 and 2010 American Community Survey Briefs:
- More than one in five children in the United States (15.75 million) lived in poverty in 2010.
- More than 1.1 million children were added to the poverty population between the 2009 and the 2010.
- The 2010 child poverty rate (21.6 percent) is the highest since the survey began in 2001.
- Children from all race groups were added to the poverty population since the 2009, including children reported as White (507,000), Black (259,000), Some Other Race (99,000), and children of Two or More Races (160,000).
- In 2010, White and Asian children had poverty rates below the U.S. average. Other race groups had higher rates, including Black children (38.2 percent) and children identified with Two or More Races (22.7 percent). Poverty for Hispanic children was 32.3 percent.
- The number and percentage of children in poverty increased in 27 states from the 2009 to 2010. In no state did the number or percent of children in poverty decrease.
- Ten states had child poverty rates estimated at 25.0 percent or higher while only New Hampshire had a child poverty rate of 10.0 percent or lower.