COLUMBUS, Ohio - The gap between black and white students' scores on Ohio's standardized exams persists even when economic advantages are considered, according to a data analysis by The Columbus Dispatch.
The scores of black students from affluent families and highly rated schools still lag far behind those of their white peers, the review published Sunday (http://bit.ly/18LGMVk ) found.
The newspaper analyzed data from more than two dozen state tests given last year to kindergarten through high school students. It found the average passage rate was 64 percent among black students, and 87 percent among white students.
Experts point to studies showing even well-off black students aren't given the same shot at advanced classes and experienced teachers that white students are.
"Our school system is set up in a way that makes these gaps worse rather than making them better," said Natasha Ushomirsky, senior data and policy analyst for Education Trust, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit group that works to close achievement gaps.
Ushomirsky said the bar is sometimes being set too low for minorities: "We expect less of our low-income students and students of color."
The newspaper's finding comes as Ohio's new A-F report cards place added pressure on closing testing gaps, penalizing schools if certain student groups, including racial minorities, don't improve enough over a year. Schools that have long earned high overall marks received D's and F's in that area this year.
Vaughn Bell, a parent in the Columbus suburb of Westerville who revived a defunct group for black parents last year, sees clear divisions along ethics lines.
"I do believe that schools are failing our African-American students," said Bell, who also notes the prevalence of white teachers as a possible factor in the gap.
The persistent gap challenges the common notion that educational attainment is tied to poverty. Still, wealth plays a role.
The poverty rate of nearly 26 percent among U.S. blacks is higher than any other racial group except Native Americans. Poor families often have lower-quality options for pre-school that can affect later learning.
Shaun Harper, the director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, said, "If kids show up in kindergarten not having had high-quality instruction in preschool, they're already starting behind."