Eighty percent of the 33,998 white third-graders tested were reading at or above grade level. But among the 14,721 Latino third-graders tested in reading, just 51 percent were proficient or advanced readers, and among the 3,212 black students, just 54 percent were reading at grade level.
The overall rate was 70%. In Denver Public Schools, the rate is 51%.
It isn't any secret that there is an ethnicity linked gap in reading proficiency as measured by the CSAPs. While many people have doubts about the reliability of the CSAP, it is fair to say that there is a significant real gap in 3rd grade English reading proficiency as well.
These gaps don't disappear for older students. In fact, in reading tests, it gets somewhat worse for middle school children, and the gap is about the same for high school aged students as it is for middle school children. But, about 90% of the gap, measured in percentage points, is already there by 3rd grade.
The only reasonable assumption is that the vast majority of this gap predates involvement with the public school system all together. Even those who believe that the school system is permeated with unconscious institutionalized racism, almost never believe the teachers from kindergarten to 3rd grade are materially more culpable in this regard than teachers from the 4th grade through high school. But, if the CSAP data is even remotely accurate and institutionalized racism is the primary cause, this must be true in spades.
This doesn't imply that the majority of Denver public school system parents are bad parents. But, it does suggest that white students, who are far more likely to grow up speaking standard written English as their native language and live in middle class households enter the system with advantages that flow from their socio-economic status, absorbed by osmosis very early on.