When schools finally began addressing this problem (in the mid-90s) we quickly found that the implementation of typical school programs had the tendency to produce gains - but the white kids we growing faster than the black kids - thus expanding the achievement gap, rather than narrowing it. Initially some schools approached the problem by lowering standards, or by placing all of their resources in traditional remediation programs. Both approaches failed.
As resources moved away from top students, now comes a study that suggests the students who lose the most ground academically in U.S. public schools may be the brightest African-American children. As African American students move through elementary and middle school the test-score gaps between them and their better-performing white counterparts grow fastest among the most able students and the most slowly for those who start out with below-average academic skills.
Some researchers believe the patterns have something to do with the fact that African-American children tend to be taught in predominantly black schools, where test scores are lower on average, teachers are less experienced, and high-achieving peers are harder to find.
Education Week reports:
For his analysis, Sean F. Reardon, an associate professor of sociology and education at Stanford University, analyzed reading and mathematics scores for nearly 7,000 elementary students taking part in a federal study known as the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort. From kindergarten to 5th grade, he found, the achievement gaps grew twice as fast among the students who started out performing above the mean than they did among lower-performing children.
“It appears on average to be worse for a child to be in a school with a high black enrollment share, but it’s not clear why,” said Mr. Rivkin. “It could be important given the recent [U.S.] Supreme Court decision on desegregation,” he added, referring to a ruling in June of last year that sharply limited schools from using race to assign students to schools."