Educators have long studied the achievement gap, in which black and Hispanic pupils and low-income students of all races perform at much lower levels than their white, Asian and better-off peers. A new study released on Tuesday by a group that supported efforts to attain for more money for city schools looked at the educational opportunities available to poor and minority students and found the choices lacking.
The report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education found that poor and minority students have fewer opportunities to attend the city’s best public schools largely because of where they live.
The study’s authors looked at state math and English scores at 500 middle schools in the 2009-2010 school year. The schools were sorted into four groups from highest to lowest test scores, with an equal number of schools in each. The authors then looked at how many students in each of the city’s 32 community school districts are able to attend local middle schools that scored in the 75th percentile, or top quarter.
The study did not include charter schools. Most of the charters are in low-income and minority communities, and some of them have impressive test scores.
The study found that wealthier neighborhoods have more access to better schools. For example, all of the students in District 26 in Queens — which includes Douglaston and Little Neck — have an opportunity to attend a high-performing middle school. Most students can also attend high-scoring schools in Manhattan’s District 2 and 3.
But in five districts, which include Harlem, the Bronx and Bedford-Stuyvesant, no students can attend a middle school that performs in the top quarter. The local middle schools just don’t have the test scores. The report also found that, within the 32 districts, whites and Asians are more likely to attend high-scoring schools than blacks and Hispanics.