While test scores in San Diego County and across California tend to show that Asian and Pacific Islander students outperform their classmates, a new report shows that some groups of Asian students are doing far better than others.

That pattern also holds in San Diego County, where achievement gaps exist between kids of Chinese and Cambodian descent and students from Hawaii and Samoa.

Education Trust West, an Oakland-based nonprofit that seeks to close the achievement gap, argues in a new policy brief that by grouping all Asian students together and all Pacific Islander students together when it studies test scores, California is overlooking the needs of some Asian and Pacific Islander students. The data masks low achievement in some subgroups. Their press release states:

“The findings … show that there is a disconnect between what is perceived by the public to be reality versus what is indeed reality for Asian American and Pacific Islander students,” said U.S. Representative Mike Honda (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

The same patterns show up in San Diego County. While Asian-American eighth graders across the county seem to be doing well — 74 percent are proficient in English — there are actually big gaps within the group. English proficiency rates for eighth graders of Chinese descent are twice as high as those for students of Cambodian descent, only 43 percent of whom are meeting state goals in English.

Similar gaps exist among San Diego County students who are labeled as Pacific Islanders, where Hawaiian students have outperformed Samoan ones, data gathered by Education Trust West reveals.

Want to learn more? You can check out the full report here.

— EMILY ALPERT

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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