The federal government has spent more than $293 billion in the past decade to improve student academic performance. Another $5.5 trillion has been spent by the states.
But even with this funding and after Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama made it a priority to improve K-12 education, reading and math proficiency levels among students graduating from high school haven’t improved in years, according to the George Washington University’s Face the Facts USA initiative.
In fact, one in four high school seniors don’t meet basic reading standards and one in three fall below basic math proficiency. Among Latino and African American students it’s even worse.
By the time Latino and African American students graduate from high school, their math and reading skills are roughly the same level as 13-year-old white students, according to a November 2011 study by the advocacy group Education Trust.
The study also found that Latino and African American students haven’t made much progress in more than a decade when it comes to their 12th-grade reading scores. In fact, they continue to lag behind white students. In math, there hasn’t been much progress either and the gap between them and white students continues to widen in that area as well.
When it comes to ACT scores, Latino and African American students are also trailing behind white and Asian students.
Three weeks ago, the ACT exam results for the high school class of 2012 were released. The results showed widening gaps between racial groups. For whites, the average composite score was 22.4, up from 22.1 in 2008. Meanwhile, Asians saw a bigger increase, from 22.9 to 23.6.
But the average composite scores for Latinos and African Americans remain significantly low. For Latinos, the composite score was 18.9, up from 18.7 in 2008. The composite score for African Americans was even lower, from 16.9 in 2008 to 17.0 this year.
Also alarming is that only 13 percent of Hispanics and 5 percent of African Americans met college-readiness benchmarks in all four subjects—English, reading, math and science. Meanwhile, 42 percent of Asians and 32 percent of whites met those same benchmarks.