Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin*
Historically, black, Hispanic, and American Indian students have had their access to high-quality educational opportunities seriously restricted. Laws, policies, and practices served to keep their families, for the most part, in conditions of poverty, unable to afford the books and other educational materials and experiences that prepare young children for academic success. Many students of color continue to attend schools that lack many of the resources and experienced teaching and support staff that are typical of schools that serve primarily white students.
Overall, from 1990 to 2017, scores rose for all tabulated racial and ethnic groups, although white students continued to outscore their Hispanic, American Indian, and black peers. Gaps by race/Hispanic origin were greater in eighth grade than in fourth or twelfth grades (Appendices 1, 2, and 3).
In the most recent year available (2015 for twelfth graders, 2017 for younger students), Asian/Pacific Islander students had the highest math scores at all grade levels, followed by white students. Black students had the lowest math scores at all grade levels. Hispanic and American Indian students had scores between white and black students at all grade levels. For example, in 2017, among eighth grade students, Asian/Pacific Islander students had an average scale score of 310, compared with 293 for white students, 269 and 267 for Hispanic and American Indian students, respectively, and 260 for black students (Figure 2, Appendix 3). Compared to 2015 math scores, fourth grade scores in 2017 remained nearly unchanged. The scores for eighth graders followed the same trend, except that scores for Asian/Pacific Islander students increased by 4 points (Appendices 1, 2, and 3).
* Hispanics may be any race. Note that none of the race groups in this report include Hispanics of those races, and that the Asian race group includes Pacific Islanders as well.