Seattle ranked near the bottom of a 50-city study on several measures of equity examining who was more likely to attend the highest and lowest performing schools.
White kids in Seattle are almost ten times as likely as black kids to attend an elementary or middle school with reading tests scores that rank in the top 20 percent citywide.
Only Miami had a wider gap in a 50-city comparison of schools released Wednesday by the Seattle-based Center on Reinventing Public Education.
The picture for Seattle’s top schools based on math scores was similar — white kids were about 8 times as likely to attend one as black kids.
Only Miami and Newark had bigger gaps between white and black enrollment, according to the Center, an education think tank affiliated with the University of Washington Bothell.
“We just have some pretty serious equity challenges here,” said Betheny Gross, one of the study’s authors. “It seems pretty clear that African American kids, Hispanic kids, low-income kids in the city are enrolled in fundamentally different quality schools than other kids are.”
No city in the report cornered the market on equity. Across the 50 cities, white students were four times as likely as their black peers to enroll in a school in the top 20 percent based on tests scores, according to the report.
The study looked at achievement and educational opportunity at all the public schools in each city, including charters as well as district-run schools. The 50 cities range in size from Fort Wayne, Indiana to New York City.
The authors chose cities that have complex mixes of private, traditional and public schools, noting that Seattle made the list primarily because 22 percent of Seattle’s families chose private schools in the 2011-2012 school year, though test score data was not available for private schools.
While Seattle had some of the widest racial and income-based opportunity gaps, Boston ranked among the cities considered to be more equitable.
For example, low-income kids in Boston were 1.5 times more likely than children from higher income families to attend a school with low math scores, which was the 7th narrowest gap among the 50 cities.
In Seattle, low-income kids were about four times as likely to attend those low-performing schools. Only 14 cities had a wider gap than Seattle.
On the statewide level, however, blacks and Hispanics in both Washington and Massachusetts performed equally well on the math and reading portions of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), given in grades 4 and 8.
But white students in Massachusetts significantly outperformed white students in Washington on the 2013 NAEP, which tests a representative sample of students across the country every two years.
This story, first published on Oct. 7, has been clarified. The study analyzed achievement and educational data for public schools only, not public and private schools.