ILEARN scores are out for Indiana. They are bad. They are NOT as bad as last year, but they are still unambiguously bad. Some of this data reflect of the setbacks from COVID-19. We knew going in that learning loss was going to be an issue, and this just confirmed it. However, there is another issue with the scores: predictably, Black and brown students scored lowered than their white counterparts. This remained true even in “good” school districts.
The achievement gap is broadly defined as the persistent gap between student groups, particularly racial groups, in the United States’ educational system. It is most commonly referenced when talking about Black and white students, but Asian and Hispanic (non-white) students are often included in those same data sets. The term itself has recently fallen out of favor due to the emphasis and stigma it places on individual students as opposed to the root causes and systemic factors. Whatever you want to call it … it’s still here. Indiana is no exception, and no school district is excluded.
Only 5.1% of Black Indianapolis Public Schools students were English/language arts and math proficient according to ILEARN. It was not much better for Hispanic students at 7.9%. However, 35.3% of white IPS students were proficient. Now that is probably not surprising if you keep up with education trends. Inner city students face a lot of obstacles that typically result in poor academic performance. However, it is important to note that wealthy affluent districts have the same problem.
In Carmel Clay Schools, an affluent suburban district, 29.4% of Black students and 35.5% of Hispanic students were E/LA and Math proficient. That is substantially higher than their inner-city peers, but still way behind the white students in their same district, at 57.9%. This is key because it shows that although better resourced school districts have had more success educating Black and brown students, they still don’t have the same level of success they have with their white students.
If you are a family in Indiana, there is nowhere you can go to opt out of the racial disparity problem in schools. Though there are places you can go where it is less pronounced.
People have talked about the root causes of the achievement gap, or “opportunity gap” as they are calling it now, at length. A lot of it revolves around socio-economic inequality and bias. There is nothing new that I have to add here that will expand on any of those theories. However, it suffices to say that it is unacceptable, and everyone has to do a lot better. With that being said, seeing as how the students in question are getting better results in more affluent districts, we can reasonably draw at least a rudimentary correlation from resources to success.
See your school district’s ILEARN data here.
Learn more about gaps in test scores and racial disparities here.