California’s poor showing in a national study of children’s well-being came despite increases in academic achievement. California students improved on all four indicators in education, according to the 23rd annual Kids Count report released last week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Between 2005-07 and 2008-10, more children enrolled in preschool, more fourth and eighth grade students were proficient in reading and math respectively, and more high school students graduated on time. The increases ranged from four to six percent. But it wasn’t enough to lift the state above an education ranking of 43 out of the 50 states.
California fared little better in its overall score, coming in at 41 based on its performance in all four categories scored by Kids Count. In addition to education, the report examined economic well-being, health, and family and community.
The four categories are generally intertwined, so new research indicating that family income has trumped race and ethnicity as a potential cause of the education achievement gap may be part of the reason California did so poorly. Nationwide, the gap between socioeconomic level and academic achievement is “nearly twice as large as the Black/white achievement gap,” wrote Stanford education professor Sean Reardon in his study The Widening Academic Achievement Gap Between the Rich and the Poor. “That’s the opposite of what it was 50 years ago.”