Jason Szep, Reuters, June 14, 2006
BOSTON — U.S. President George W. Bush’s signature No Child Left Behind education policy is failing to close racial achievement gaps and will miss its goals by 2014 according to recent trends, a Harvard study said on Wednesday.
It said the policy has had no significant impact on improving reading and math achievement since it was introduced in 2001, contradicting White House claims and potentially adding to concerns over America’s academic competitiveness.
Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act was meant to introduce national standards to an education system where only two-thirds of teenagers graduate from high school, a proportion that slides to 50 percent for blacks and Hispanics.
The study released by Harvard University’s Civil Rights Project said national average of achievement by U.S. students has been flat in reading since 2001 and the growth rate in math has remained the same as before the policy was introduced.
“Public Education and Black Male Students: The 2006 State Report Card,” published by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, reports that on average 55 percent of US Black male students do not graduate from high school.
“At a time of the year when parents, relatives and friends all over the nation come together to celebrate high school graduates, we cannot forget that a large number of students continue to be left behind annually. We need to do more to help this predictably vulnerable student population,” says Dr. Rosa A. Smith, President of The Schott Foundation for Public Education which produced the report.
The report highlights disparities in the quality of education provided to African-Americans by examining high school graduation rates of Black and White non-Hispanic males. Graduation rates are measured by comparing grade 9 enrollments with diploma attainment three years later.
Nevada and Florida graduated less than a third of their Black male students on schedule, according to the State Report Card, which presents the most recent data (2003-2004) from the National Center of Education statistics. Eight other states — Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, South Carolina, and Wisconsin — graduated fewer with their peer group than the national average.
“Much of the problem is concentrated in a few large cities. New York City, Chicago, Detroit and Dade County fail to graduate between three-quarters and two-thirds of their African-American male students with their peers,” writes Michael Holzman, author of the report.
“Districts in which Black students are concentrated tend to have racially segregated schools, do worse on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, suspend and expel more Black boys than White boys, and assign more Black boys than White boys to Special Education using procedures open to abuse and effectively preventing those students from receiving a high school diploma with their peers,” writes Holzman.
The report is available in PDF format at the Schott Foundation for Public Education’s website: http://www.schottfoundation.org.