COLUMBUS (TDB) -- The college board scores on the ACT test are up this year in Ohio, an achievement the state education department and outgoing State Supt. Susan Tave Zelman are high-fivin' in a press release. But the data is not so positive for African-American students, whose 2008 results are actually lower than they were in 2004. In fact, the gap between whites and blacks has been growing, not shrinking. The scores demonstrate that black children are still being left behind in this era of No Child Left Behind and charter schools. They were supposed to erase the achievement gap, not make it worse.
This year, the ACT composite score was 21.7 for all 88,103 Ohio students who took the college entrance exam, which measures academic results in reading, science, math and English. For whites the score was 22.2; for blacks 17.1. Five years ago, the ACT score was 21.4 for all students, 21.8 for whites and 17.2 for blacks.
Over the past five school years, charter schools have proliferated, and last year there were 252 in the state's nine largest, most urban counties. They were created and funded as alternatives to the public schools, meant to give parents a choice if they felt the public schools weren't up to snuff. The plan was that charter schools would offer poor and urban families a superior education for their children. While the ACT scores don't prove the charter movement is going to wind up a complete failure in the long run, the test results do show that momentum toward success is lacking. The scores for African American haven't improved at all since the charter schools have proliferated:
2004 -- 17.2
2005 -- 17.1
2007 -- 17.0
2008 -- 17.1.
Meanwhile, State School Supt. Zelman is crowing about the overall results, and notes there is a relationship between a rigorous curriculum and the ACT: "Data clearly shows a relationship between coursework and college readiness. There more students are exposed to rich and challenging coursework, the better the opportunity for success in the future."
She doesn't say anything about the impact of Ohio's charter schools on the national entrance and placement exam.