Achievement gap widens

Oct. 11, 2001, midnight | By Kang-Xing Jin | 20 years, 7 months ago

MCPS is facing an increasing achievement gap which has been caused in part by economic disparity, according to a Washington Post study released Sept 2. Last year's SAT scores revealed that the problem is especially pronounced at Blair.

The study of 50,000 MCPS students found that income level is the most significant factor in determining a student's performance. MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast called the gap a "fundamental disparity” and said that the number of MCPS students below the poverty line is rising.

The disparity at Blair is evident in recently released SAT scores. While the mean scores at Blair rose 10 points in 2001 to 1144, well above the county average of 1092, Blair also had the second largest economic achievement gap and the largest racial achievement gap among all county high schools:

• Blair students who have ever enrolled in the Free and Reduced-Price Meal Service (FARMS) program scored an average of 919 points on the SAT, 334 points lower than non-FARMS students. The only school in MCPS with a larger gap is Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, with a gap of 363 points. Countywide, the FARMS gap averaged 204 points.

• Eighty-three percent of non-FARMS Blair students took the SAT, while only 45 percent of FARMS students did. This disparity is echoed across the county. In MCPS, 82 percent of non-FARMS students and 51 percent of FARMS students took the SAT.

• Within their respective racial groups, Blair's white and Asian students earned the highest scores of all county students, with averages of 1275 and 1306, respectively. However, black and Hispanic students received an average of 377 points below county averages, scoring 891 and 945 points, respectively. The lowest scores in MCPS were 824 points for blacks and 833 points for Hispanics.

• The racial gap at Blair has increased by 50 points since 1997. Countywide, the average score of white students was 1154, an all-time high. Asian students averaged 1127 points, gaining 14 points since 1997. At the same time, black student scores dropped 13 points from 1997 to 911 and Hispanic student scores fell by 45 points to 949.

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Kang-Xing Jin. Kang-Xing ("Mr. K") Jin is a senior in the Blair magnet program. His first name is pronounced exactly like it is spelled--"consin," as in the last two syllables of Wisconsin, where he was born. This year, he is co-managing news editor of Chips. Besides journalism, … More »

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