Achievement Gap

The achievement gap refers to the disparity in academic performance between groups of students. It shows up in a variety of success measures including the following the following:

  • Grades
  • Standardized-test scores
  • Course selection
  • Dropout rates
  • College-completion rates

One of the most troubling performance gaps is among black and Hispanic students, who are at the lower end of the performance scale, and their non-Hispanic white peers.

National Center for Education Statistics in 2009 and 2011 showed that black and Hispanic students trailed their white peers by an average of more than 20 test-score points on the NAEP math and reading assessments at 4th and 8th grades, a difference of about two grade levels.


  • The mathematics achievement gap between Hispanic and white students in 2009 was 21 points at grade 4, and 26 points at grade 8.
  • The reading achievement gap between Hispanic and white students in 2009 was 25 points at grade 4 and 24 point at grade 8.
Source: IES National Center for Educational Statistics–Achievement Gaps: How Hispanic and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress


According to Education Research Center’s Diplomas Count report, while each major racial and ethnic group had more students graduate as of the class of 2008, massive gaps remained between different groups of students. While 82.7 percent of Asian students and 78.4 percent of white students in the class of 2008 graduated on time, only 57.6 percent of Hispanic and 57 percent of black students graduated on time.

Source: Education Research Center’s Diplomas Count report, Class of 2008
The achievement gaps are increasingly important because minority students are becoming a larger proportion of U.S. students. Looking ahead, demographic trends suggest that America's population will continue to grow more diverse, making the achievement of students of color increasingly critical to national progress.

The Generation Schools Model closes achievement gaps
for low-income and minority students.

What if...

  • Teachers had more time with their students in core courses?
  • Teachers had access to real-time student data in 21st century classrooms to differentiate instruction and personalize learning based on student need?