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Everyone talks about the achievement gap, who is doing something about it?

• Dr. Matthew Ladner

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams since 2003. The NAEP not only tracks levels of academic achievement, but also progress in closing achievement gaps by student subgroups. Analysts monitor the achievement gap between White and Black students more closely than any of the achievement gaps. The recent release of the 2013 NAEP gives us a chance to evaluate the “Florida K-12 reform cocktail” against the results in other states between 2003 and 2013.

The map below has shaded the states that achieved a statistically significant narrowing of the White-Black achievement gap in 4th grade mathematics:


Here is the map for the states narrowing the White-Black achievement gap in 8th grade math:



Here is the map for the states narrowing the White-Black achievement gap in 4th grade Reading:


Finally here is the map for the states narrowing the White-Black achievement gap in 8th grade Reading:


Did you happen to notice the state that narrowed the White-Black achievement gap in all four subjects during the last decade? Here is a hint:


Florida achieved this progress on achievement gaps the best way possible: strong gains among White students, even stronger gains among Black students.  The Florida reform cocktail has once again proven itself as a highly beneficial beverage.

About the author

Dr. Matthew Ladner @MatthewLadner

Dr. Matthew Ladner is the Senior Advisor of Policy and Research for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. He previously served as Vice President of Research and Goldwater Institute. Prior to joining Goldwater, Dr. Ladner was director of state projects at the Alliance for School Choice. Dr. Ladner has written numerous studies on school choice, charter schools and special education reform. Most recently, Dr. Ladner authored the groundbreaking, original research Turn and Face the Strain: Age Demographic Change and the Near Future of American Education, outlining the future funding crisis facing America’s K-12 public education funding. He also coauthors the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform. Dr. Ladner has testified before Congress, the United States Commission of Civil Rights and numerous state legislative committees. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received both a Masters and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Houston. Dr. Ladner is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for Educational Choice. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.