The Golden State Schooling Blues
Are California Schools Really Behind?
Each year 4th and 8th graders take the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. The NAEP is ongoing assessment of what U.S. students know and what they can do in different subjects. It allows people to compare student achievement between states, grades and subgroups. California’s children tend to score relatively poorly on these tests.
The differences between California's children and children elsewhere in the country are statistically significant. Research has shown that children not reading at grade level by the end of third grade are at serious risk of never graduating from high school.
The chart shows the average score of children in each state. A score of 229 is needed to reach the level of proficiency. Although California's scores have increased over the past ten years, they are still below proficiency level.
*You can sort the test score results by clicking on the corresponding year.
There are multiple achievement gaps that affect California. In addition to the high and low-income widened student gap, the Hispanic-White gap has a major impact on the state’s educational outcomes. The gap between English-learners and non-English-learners has grown to be California’s widest achievement gap.
Students from Low Income families, that are English Learners, Hispanic and African Americans continue to have lower average scores on The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). Poor, unequal student achievement results in a less educated society and a less productive workforce.
Even those students who finish high school ready for college do not necessarily go to college, and the school system is not necessarily set up to encourage them to do so. A student’s interest in college may not translate into action without support. Virtually all California high schools long ago reduced the number of college counselors on their staffs. Even still it is easy to predict which students will earn a degree and which will not. Only 46% of black students and 53% of Hispanic students graduated within six years, compared with 66% of white students.
For every 100 9th graders in California:
California has a long and well-respected history of providing its residents with affordable, lifelong access to postsecondary education. The largest and most visible investment has been a robust public system of colleges and universities. With recent budget cuts, California’s road to and through college has become pocketed with potholes. Whether by strategy or by circumstance, California’s education systems are overdue for some rethinking to allow its residence to enjoy postsecondary education.