As figures 3 and 4 show, white students perform better than students of color on virtually all direct learning measures. If these performance gaps could be eliminated or even narrowed, any state would be substantially better off.

Figure 3.
WorkKeys Examinations: Mean Scores
(Demonstration States: Two-Year College Students)

Figure 4.
Collegiate Learning Assessment: Mean Scores
(Demonstration States: Four-Year College/University Students)

While performance gaps occur in all states, variability in the size of those gaps across states suggests that some states do a better job than others of meeting that challenge and may have some best practices to share.

Figures 5 and 6 highlight the performance gaps in the demonstration states.2 The impact of these gaps on overall state performance varies according to the size of the states' minority populations.

South Carolina, for instance, takes a double hit: the first from the relatively large size of its minority population and the second from the size of the performance gaps.
Illinois, with an even larger gap on the CLA problem-solving exam, still performs strongly on that measure because of the limited number of students of color in that state.

Figure 5.
WorkKeys, Applied Math: Mean Scores

Figure 6.
CLA, Problem Solving: Mean Scores

The analysis strongly suggests that students of color, the fastest-growing part of our student population, continue to be underserved by our educational system even in college. Given that other nations are overtaking the United States in the proportion of young residents earning a baccalaureate degree, and that states' and our nation's future prosperity depends on these students, the performance gap is worthy of the most concentrated policy attention.

2 For the results of additional WorkKeys and CLA exams, see


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