Epilogue—The meaning of the gaps: Yesterday, we said some data concerning the PISA aren’t available yet.
As it turns out, they are. If you want to disaggregate the new PISA scores by race/ethnicity, that can be done for all three subjects tested—reading, math and science.
Yesterday, we showed you those data for math. If you want to see them for science and reading, click here, scroll to pages 34 and 46.
Those data help you contemplate the size of our nation’s gaps. What’s the overall meaning of our nation’s very large gaps?
Once again, let’s review the horrible data in which scores on the NAEP are broken down by race/ethnicity and income.
In this chart, “lower income” refers to kids who quality for free or reduced price lunch because of family income. This is not a measure of poverty, despite what you’re constantly told by the rising number of Fox-like hacks of the left.
“Higher income” refers to kids who don’t qualify:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2011 NAEPHow large are our nation’s achievement gaps? Today, we’ll articulate a distinction we left unsaid yesterday.
All students: 283
White students, higher income: 299
White students, lower income: 278
Hispanic students, higher income: 280
Hispanic students, lower income: 266
Black students, higher income: 273
Black students, lower income: 258
Asian-American students, higher income: 313
Asian-American students, lower income: 286
On the NAEP, lower income white kids produce higher average scores than higher income black kids! In our view, this is part of what that means:
Obviously, many black kids are doing great in school. Many white kids are struggling. Beyond that, black kids have been scoring substantially better on average than was the case in the past.
(It’s astounding to see the way the liberal world refuses to state that last fact.)
On average, black kids have been scoring much better. But white kids have been scoring better too. This means that our gaps remain, even though they have gotten smaller.
Our gaps remain—and in various ways, our gaps are very large. Here’s the way that grabs us:
In a nation with very large gaps, what does it means when we’re told that we should eschew so-called “tracking?” When we’re told that we should adopt a set of higher “standards” to which everyone should be held?
Those prescriptions may make perfect sense in a society with small gaps. In this society, the gaps are very large. Do those prescriptions make sense for us?
Our gaps continue to be very large. Have you ever seen an “educational expert” come to terms with that fact?
We taught in the Baltimore City schools from 1969 through 1982. Mostly, we taught fifth grade.
Happily, NAEP data say that our nation’s tenth percentile scorers—our kids who are struggling in school—are now scoring substantially better than was the case in the 1970s. But the gaps are still extremely large between our lowest and highest scorers.
Have you ever seen an “educational expert” attempt to address this fact? Ever, by which we mean even once?
When we read Amanda Ripley’s new book, The Smartest Kids in the World, we were struck by the way she argued against various practices she referred to as “tracking.”
To appearances, Ripley argued this way because Andreas Schleicher had issued a decree to the world on the subject of “tracking.” For the most part, Ripley is an echo for Schleicher, the slightly cultish figure who devised and runs the slightly cultish PISA.
The implication of Ripley’s presentation is fairly obvious. All our kids should be taught the same challenging things in school.
This sounds like a great idea, if you’ve never set foot inside an American classroom. If you don’t have any real sense of the size of the gaps.
Here at The Howler, we’re wondering what our schools should do for the kids who are lagging behind. And make no mistake: in our society, many of those deserving kids are lagging far behind.
What do we do for children like them? Our gaps are quite large, and those children are suffering. It’s no fun to go to a school where you struggle and fail every day.
What should we do for the kids who are lagging behind? In our country, those kids are often way behind. What do we do for them?
We’ll examine these questions the week after next. Meanwhile, we marvel at the lack of concern for those kids routinely displayed by those of us on “the left.”
On the left, it’s becoming hip to sneer at news of our country’s mid-level average scores. “What, us worry?” we lefties now say. Our country has always had mid-level average scores. And our economy is still leading the world!
We’re amazed by that approach, which we’ll examine in detail next week. Those mid-level average scores are produced in large part by the large numbers of kids who are lagging way behind. When we sneer at our average scores, we’re sneering at those suffering children.
The gaps in this country are very large. In our view, you can’t begin to discuss our schools if you don’t understand that fact.