Report: Only 13 Percent of 2011 Black Graduates Proficient in Reading

Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance says that students are not ready to compete in a 21st century global economy.

Posted: 08/23/2011 12:30 PM EDT

How well are our nation’s children ranking in comparison with the global competition? Not that well, according to a new study.

 

The study, entitled “Globally Challenged : Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete,” leaves little doubt that U.S. students may not be prepared to compete in a  21st century global economy.

 

Of the United States’ high school graduating class of 2011, only 32 percent had a proficiency rate in math and 31 percent had a proficiency rate in reading, reports Harvard University's Program on Education Policy and Governance.

 

When broken down by racial backgrounds, African-Americans and Latinos fared the worst in the report. Only 11 percent of Blacks were proficient in math, in comparison with 50 percent of Asian students, 42 percent of white students and 15 percent of Hispanic students. 

 

The minority races also did not rate well in reading proficiency. Only 13 percent of African-American students and 4 percent of Hispanic students were proficient in reading, in comparison with 40 percent of white students and 41 percent of those with Asian and Pacific Island backgrounds.

 

"Given the disparate performance among students from various cultural backgrounds, it may be worth inquiring as to whether differences between the United States and other countries are attributable to the substantial minority population within the U.S.," the study says.

 

The study reveals that 22 countries outperform the U.S. in students reaching math proficiency. In Korea and Finland, for example, the countries had 58 and 56 percent of students, respectfully, who were proficient. On the other hand, the U.S. had less than one-third.

 

The authors suggest that the United States could benefit from a large increase in its annual GDP growth per capita by enhancing the math proficiency of U.S. students. They estimate that the U.S. could potentially benefit from a trillion dollars in income growth if the percentage increases are calculated as national income projections over 80 years.

 

The study shows that investing in our children’s future could not only help to make them smarter, but could possibly make the country more money as well. Hopefully, studies like these will help to make education a top priority again for everyone.

 

 

To share story ideas with Danielle Wright, follow and tweet her at @DaniWrightTV.

 

 

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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