(Huffington Post) — Amid the intense debates about how much progress the nation has made in raising student achievement and whether federal investments in education have produced results, one important trend tends to be overlooked — namely, the notable gains made by African American and Latino students in reading and math achievement since 1971. According to long-term trend data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the most credible national measure of changes in achievement over the past four decades, progress varies by age group for students overall.
Between the early 1970s and 2008, 9-year-olds have made sizable gains in both math and reading — increases of 24 points in math and 12 points in reading on the NAEP scale of 0-500. Thirteen-year-olds have made smaller, though still significant, gains of 15 points in math and 5 points in reading. For 17-year-olds, however, changes in achievement have been so small as to be insignificant — 2 points in math and 1 point in reading. But the record looks entirely different and much more positive when long-term NAEP trend data is broken out by racial/ethnic group. White, African American, and Latino students — the three racial/ethnic groups included in the long-term NAEP — have made greater achievement gains than the averages for students overall, in both reading and math and for all three tested age groups.