It’s uncomfortable to talk about, but even worse to ignore. Latinos and African American students are generally outperformed in school by their Asian and White peers. In Sacramento County, Asian and white students are more likely to graduate high school than other students of color, and they are more likely to earn the grades needed to attend a four-year university.

Why should I care about closing the achievement gap?

Beyond the joy of helping individuals be successful, an economic argument for raising performance rates among students of color connects the issue to nearly every aspect of life.

Sacramento is poised to see a boom of Latinos in the coming decades, more so than other areas of the state, according to state projections. This incoming population needs to have the skills to work in businesses, schools, hospitals and science labs. If Latinos cannot fill these jobs, businesses will struggle, and local residents will take away from the tax base, not add to it.

How different Sacramento is going to look in the coming decades?

By 2020, Latinos in Sacramento are projected to increase by 19 percent from the prior decade, to about 367,000 people. Ten years later, in 2030, the Latino population will grow by an additional 22 percent. Meanwhile, Sacramento’s white population is only expected to grow by 9 percent in the ten years leading up to 2020, and by 11 percent through 2030.

What do we know about the current achievement gap in Sacramento County?

Latino and African American students still graduate high school at lower numbers than white students. In Sacramento County, the high school graduation rate among Latinos was 75 percent for the class of 2014 and the graduation rate for African Americans was 70 percent. The graduation rate for white students was 84 percent.

Here’s more sobering news: White students in Sacramento County also outperform Latinos and African Americans when it comes to graduating high school with courses needed for the University of California and California State University.

For the class of 2013, 40 percent of graduating seniors who were white attained the university prerequisites; only 28 percent of Latinos and 28 percent of African Americans passed those required courses.

Students of color, with the exception of Filipino and Asian American students, also have disproportionately higher dropout rates in Sacramento as compared to their white counterparts. In 2013 the dropout rate in Sacramento County was 18.5% for American Indians,17% for African Americans, 14% for Latinos.

What do we know about the link between college and ultimate success?

College isn’t necessary to finding a rewarding a career, but attending higher education gives people a better chance at securing a job, earning higher wages and even being physically healthier throughout life, according to Kidsdata.org and various other reports.

Is the achievement gap all about race, or is it based on income?

When talking about disparity in school performance, family income cannot be ignored. While experts have debated the role of race in the achievement gap, studies show that across the U.S., the racial achievement gap has narrowed in recent decades, but the gap between rich and poor has grown.

Here’s one unfortunate example of the income gap playing out in Sacramento County. In 2014, only 77% of lower income students in Sacramento County passed the High School Exit Exam in Math, compared to 92% of more affluent students.

We cannot afford to ignore the perilous achievement gap. Join Closing the Gap.