STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

The achievement gap that won't go away

Michigan Department of Education

Race. We're going to be talking a lot about race and racial disparities over the coming months. I, for one, am working on an hour-long special about race and it's been on my mind a lot.

What does it mean to be born black in Michigan? Latino? Native American? Those are the questions we're grappling with here at State of Opportunity.

I recently spoke with Steven Raphael, a public policy professor at the University of California-Berkeley. He says statistically speaking race is "predictive of a number of things, and it tends to correlate with relatively bad outcomes." Take academic achievement, for example. According to the non-profit Education Trust-Midwest, Michigan "continues to have among the widest and most persistent achievement gaps in the nation, leaving many low-income, African-American and Latino students behind."

The state earlier this month released the 2012 state academic assessment scores(MEAP) for Michigan's K-12 students. While there were gains in some key subjects, a deep gulf still remains between African-American, Latino and Native American students and their white counterparts.

We'll continue to talk more about race and achievement gapsand what can be done to help close those gaps, but meantime I'll leave you with the two MEAP charts above. What would it take to get all students to achieve academic success no matter their race?

Jennifer is a reporter with Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and worked as a producer for WFUV in the Bronx.
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