In 2015, the percentage of NYC students in grades 3-8 achieving a “proficient” (passing) score on the English Language Arts test was 30.4%. The percentages of Black and Hispanic students scoring at the proficiency level in ELA were 19.0 and 19.8 percent, respectively. In 2016, the scores jumped to 38% overall, with Black and Hispanic students improving to 26.5% and 27.2%. This improvement indicates that while overall proficiency levels may be improving, the lagging achievement levels of students of color remains a critical issue in education today.
Many of the efforts to close this significant “achievement gap” have been properly focused on early childhood education. That focus ignores that urban, low income students, particularly students of color from underserved urban neighborhoods, enter 9th grade well behind their more affluent classmates. As a result, they struggle to reach “college readiness” (see college readiness benchmarks chart below), hampering their ability to matriculate to, and more importantly, to remain enrolled and succeed in college and beyond.