Washington's Opportunity Gap Growing Faster Than Any Other State

A study comparing student performance in the U.S. shows that Washington State's opportunity gap has grown more than any other state's in the past 12 years.

From the Seattle Times:

When interpreting student performance, much depends on whether you’re a glass-half-empty sort of person or more of a Pollyanna, and Washington ranks above the national average in many areas, including overall scores, household income and the number of adults with a college degree.

But between 2003 and 2015, low-income fourth- and eighth-graders lagged significantly on state tests, while nationally those gaps have narrowed. Only Washington, D.C., with a stunning 24-point difference between its poor and middle-income kids, showed greater disparities.

The data is part of a yearly report by Education Week, a national newsmagazine, and provides a lens through which to evaluate results of the No Child Left Behind Act, the national law aimed at improving school accountability, that was tossed late last year amid criticism that it emphasized testing over instruction.

That law went into effect in 2002, and since then overall scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, have improved, but only slightly.

For high school seniors, performance has been flat since 2009. And after 10 years of gradual improvement for elementary and middle-school kids, average scores in math and reading have been on the decline since 2013.

The data shows that the outlook for low-income students in Washington's public school system is not as bright as it should be. Students and parents need an alternative.

Charter schools exist to give students and families that alternative to failing schools and systems, but they are fighting for their lives in the state legislature. If that one alternative is taken away, Washington's low-income students will be forced to go to schools that won't give them the education they deserve.