Eleven percent of black OPS high school students proficient in math


October 19th, 2011

Omaha, NE – A stark picture emerged today of a vast achievement gap in math scores among Nebraska public school students. The State of the Schools report was released by the Nebraska Department of Education, and it shows public schools in the state – and particularly here in Omaha – have a lot of work to do to create a level playing field for graduates.

Nebraska Education Commissioner Roger Breed. (Photo credit Nebraska Department of Education)

Just 10.70% of black 11th grade students in Omaha Public Schools are proficient in math, according to new data released in the annual report. That compares to 42.19% of white students and 14.39% of Hispanic students.

Overall, among OPS high schools, just 24.16% of 11th graders met math standards.

Nebraska Education Commissioner Roger Breed announced the scores in a press conference Wednesday morning. “If the performance on the assessment is indicative of the math learning that these students have, then one has too look at the full range of opportunities, instruction, courses, expectations across the full curriculum in math.”

The achievement gap was also evident in the lower grades, where math scores also dropped off. In third grade among the Omaha Public Schools, 52.96% overall were proficient. That broke down to 72.93% of whites, 45.10% of Hispanics and 34.65% of blacks.

The Millard Public Schools fared significantly better overall, but the achievement gap was just as large. Among 11th graders, 68% were proficient in math. That broke down to: 71% of white students, compared with 42% (29% difference) of Hispanic students, and 27% (44% difference) of black students.

Overall in Nebraska, the achievement gap among black and students was 40%. (Photo credit Omaha Public Schools)

The achievement gap was evident not just in Omaha, but across the state. Over all grades tested, there was a 40% gap in math scores among white students and black students.

This was the first year for the statewide math test, as the state moves away from the localized STARS testing to be more compliant with the federal No Child Left Behind law. The scores were first released in September, and showed a precipitous drop across the state, but this was the first time the new math scores were broken down by race and socio-economic status.

In the old math test, the achievement gap was still evident, but nowhere near as large. Students were also allowed to re-take the test and were given more opportunities to improve their scores. Breed said the test is completely different, and the scores cannot be compared to years past.

Overall, the state’s students improved their reading scores. The achievement gap was evident there too, but not as pronounced. View the complete State of the Schools report here. And for a helpful breakdown of scores in Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster Counties from the Omaha World-Herald, click here.


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