Gap Analysis Report 2006

 

Gap Analysis Report 2006

Executive Summary

 

The North Texas P-16 Council published its first Gap Analysis Report in 2003 and a Gap Analysis Update in each subsequent year. These documents present an overview of the gaps in achievement for students in the Dallas/Fort Worth region. Each year’s report or update has grown in the breadth and depth of the information presented. The 2006 Gap Analysis Report departs from earlier documents by reporting data in graphs, rather than tables, and by utilizing drop-down menus, whenever possible, that enable users to view indicators by member school district, institution of higher education, or teacher preparation entity. In general, the data reported build on the work of the earlier three reports.

Public schools in the North Texas Region serve an increasing percentage of students from diverse backgrounds. African American and Hispanic students make up a large percentage of students in the North Texas region. In addition, students in public schools are increasingly economically disadvantaged. Increasing student diversity is not confined to the largest urban school districts. Smaller urban districts and suburban/rural areas are also seeing increased diversity.

This report paints what seems to be a gloomy picture of the efforts to close the achievement gap in the North Texas region until one considers that constantly rising standards for student performance complicate this scene.

Data for the report were taken from a variety of sources including the Academic Excellence Indicator System of the Texas Education Agency and reports of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the State Board for Educator Certification and members of the North Texas P-16 Council. Data are also included from national agencies such as the Education Commission of the States and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. This executive summary offers highlights of the 2006 report. The previous reports and the current report may be read at our website at www.notlb.com/ntp16.

 

Overview of K-12 Findings

Combining the English Language Arts data for 11th graders in Regions 10 and 11, we see increasing scores for all groups and a closing of the gaps between African American, Hispanic, and White students, with African American students performing near the state average and White students somewhat above. In Mathematics and Science, the achievement gaps are evident, with lower scores for Hispanic students in Science emerging as a concern. In Social Studies all students perform well. Looking at all tests shows a pattern of performance above the state average for White students and below the state average for African American and Hispanic 11th graders.

An important element in looking at the achievement of 11th graders is identifying when the achievement gap began. Our study suggests that many students make moderate gains at the elementary level and then lose ground beyond grade 8. Third graders are tested in Reading and Mathematics and in both Regions 10 and 11, the gaps are evident even at third grade. In fifth grade, the scores tend to decline. White students in 5th grade tend to score above the mean for the state, while African American and Hispanic students fall below the mean. In 8th grades where students are tested in Reading, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science, the gaps continue to be evident and to widen.

No Child Left Behind is reflected in this report in the discussion of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and in the efforts of the state and region to define and meet mandated requirements. At the high school level, the percentage of schools meeting adequate yearly progress is stable.

The data show that while more high school students are enrolling in the recommended curriculum, fewer students are enrolling in advanced courses. In some cases, it is evident that while students in the groups of concern are enrolling in courses, many are not taking the AP and IB tests. With regard to non-TAKS indicators, more African American and Hispanic students are taking advanced classes, but few are taking and passing the tests.

 

Overview of Postsecondary Findings

There is a large gap between the number of students who graduate from high school and those who enroll in higher education in the same year. The percentage of Texas students enrolling in college by age 19 remains low among the states. Over half of African American and Hispanic students who enter community college in the region require remediation and nearly half of white students require remediation, also.

The statistics show that fewer than half of the students who enroll in college graduate from the same public university within six years. Texas six year graduation rates are low compared to other states, but they are improving.

Texas also ranks low in affordability for higher education, and the affordability issue impacts enrollment in higher education. For African American and Hispanics students, there are gaps between those who graduate from high school and go on to higher education and those who complete community college and go on to receive undergraduate degrees at universities.

 

Recommendations for Closing the Gaps

1.  The P-16 Council will study aspects of the achievement gaps identified by this report.  In looking at effective strategies we will take into account the learning styles and cultures of the students to determine the value added of modifications in the delivery of the curriculum to create a college-going culture in high schools. 

2. The above recommendation may lead to the collection of qualitative data. We will begin to collect data from students, parents, teachers and school administrators.

3. The P-16 Council will look at dropout, mobility, discipline and attendance data in member school districts.

4. We will study high school improvement initiatives with focus on effective strategies.

5. The P-16 Council will study dual credit and how it is defined by member institutions. We will study the barriers to high schools and colleges in offering dual credit classes and programs and strategies used to overcome these barriers.

6. Starting with mathematics, the P-16 Council will study alignment of the high school and postsecondary curricula.  Along these same lines, we will study how achievement is assessed and how the assessments are used.

7. The P-16 Council will share with members and stakeholders information about the shortage of new teachers prepared in the region. We will encourage preparation entities to collaborate in creative approaches to preparing teachers in areas of highest need for implementation of House Bill 1.

8. The P-16 Council will hold a regional conference on best practices in closing the gaps. We will share this dialog with members and other education entities.