High-scoring poor students and students of color take fewer advanced classes


FILE – In this April 15, 2019, file photo, instructors from Raphael House lead a classroom discussion about consent and healthy relationships with a class of sophomores at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Ore. Most young Americans believe in the value of higher education, but many also believe that a high school diploma alone is enough for success, and they view job training as better preparation than any type of college degree, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus, File)

N.Y. (NEWS10) — Even when schools meet state learning standards, low-income and racial minority students remain underrepresented in higher-level academics. New data from the New York Equity Coalition shows that such students with proficient math scores in seventh grade enrolled less often in advanced ninth grade math courses compared to white or wealthier peers.

Students from lower-income families appeared on the rolls in those math classes 22% less than the more affluent student body. Black students similarly appeared 16% less often, and Latinx students 20% less often, than whites with similar grades and skill levels.

Minority and economically depressed students less commonly attend schools offering key introductory college-level courses or classes worth college credit. And when they do attend, they usually receive only limited access.

The coalition also found that poorer and less white high schoolers statewide were about half as likely to enroll in higher-level physics, calculus, computer science, music, foreign language, and other advanced placement, dual enrollment, or international baccalaureate courses.

Non-native English speakers, students with disabilities, and students in temporary housing who met state standards with good scores on seventh grade assessments also less frequently the chance to participate in those advanced eighth and ninth grade classes.

The coalition of educators, parents, professional organizations, and civil rights groups is pushing for four new legislative agenda items this year:

  1. Improve access to advanced courses by better funding teachers and counselors and setting up equity-driven course enrollment policy.
  2. Support parents and students with direct and multilingual information about the benefits and availability of advanced middle and high school courses.
  3. Remove barriers by enabling opt-out automatic enrollment in the next advanced course for students capable in those subjects.
  4. Eliminate disparities in lopsided districts with specific plans of action to improve advanced enrollment numbers among students of color and low-income students.

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