AVOIDING THE GAPS: Large test score gains!

THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2014

Part 3—But also, those punishing gaps: It has to be the greatest news you’re not allowed to hear.

Over (let’s say) the past twenty years, black kids seem to have made substantial progress in reading and math.

We refer to average scores by black students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the widely-praised “gold standard” of domestic educational testing.

The NAEP is a federally-run testing program which dates, in one of its two major forms, all the way back to 1971. The NAEP has always been considered our most reliable domestic testing program, in part because it has never been a “high-stakes” test.

The nation’s journalists swear by the NAEP; educational research feeds off its voluminous data. But in a weird act of fealty to elite propaganda about our allegedly failing schools, our journalists almost never tell the public what NAEP data seem to show.

Among the things the NAEP data show are large score gains by black kids. Those large score gains may be the best news the American people aren’t permitted to hear.

The so-called “Main NAEP” is given to national samples of students in Grade 4, Grade 8 and Grade 12. In math, 1996 is the first year which permits a pure statistical comparison in this particular program.

In news you aren’t permitted to hear, this is what black students’ score gains look like in Grade 8 math:
Average scores, black students, public schools
Grade 8 math, NAEP

2013: 262.73
1996: 239.28
Over that 17-year period, average scores by black eighth-graders rose by 23.45 points on this “gold standard” testing program.

Is that a big deal? Or is it just a statistical blip? According to a very rough rule of thumb, ten points on the NAEP scale is often compared to one academic year.

On average, did black students really record more than two years of progress in math over that 17-year span? That strikes us as very unlikely. For that reason, we always describe that ten-point rule as a very rough rule of thumb.

That said, the score gains have been quite large. In 2011, Richard Rothstein described the apparent progress in a piece for Slate. (For Rothstein's background, click here, then also click this.)

In his piece for Slate, Rothstein challenged some basic precepts of a familiar version of “education reform.” Given what we constantly hear about public schools, the highlighted passage is startling:
ROTHSTEIN (8/29/11): Central to the reformers' argument is the claim that radical change is essential because student achievement (especially for minority and disadvantaged children) has been flat or declining for decades. This is, however, false. The only consistent data on student achievement come from a federal sample, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Though you would never know it from the state of public alarm about education, the numbers show that regular public school performance has skyrocketed in the last two decades to the point that, for example, black elementary school students now have better math skills than whites had only 20 years ago...The reason test score gaps have barely narrowed is that white students have also improved, at least at the elementary and middle school levels. The causes of these truly spectacular gains are unknown, but they are probably inconsistent with the idea that typical inner-city teachers are content to watch students wrestle on the classroom floor instead of learning.
In the highlighted passage, Rothstein referred to average scores on the Grade 4 NAEP math tests. He made a remarkable claim:

According to data from the NAEP, “black elementary school students now have better math skills than whites had only 20 years ago,” Rothstein said. Given what we constantly hear about stagnant or declining schools, can that possibly be accurate?

The data are there for all to see in our widely-praised “gold standard” testing program. As of 2005, black fourth-graders were scoring higher in math on the NAEP than white fourth-graders scored in 1990. These are some of the average scores to which Rothstein referred:
Average scores, public school students
Grade 4 math, NAEP

White students, 1990: 218.63

Black students, 2005: 219.69
Black students, 2007: 222.01
White students quickly improved on that 1990 average score. But unless something is grossly wrong with the NAEP data, black students seem to have made remarkable progress in math on the NAEP.

Black kids have recorded strong score gains in math! To all intents and purposes, this important fact is never reported by the nation’s “press corps.”

Instead, the press corps parrots standard scripts about the alleged decline of our public schools. The score gains in question are never reported. Needless to say, no attempt is made to quantify the likely size of the actual academic gains.

Black students have recorded strong score gains in recent decades on our most reliable tests. As Rothstein notes, white students have recorded strong score gains too. So have Hispanic students!

The refusal to report these facts has represented an act of vast journalistic misconduct. That said, our journalists offend against the interests of black kids in a wide array of ways.

Black kids have recorded strong score gains. Withholding that news is a vast offense against the American public.

But even as those gains occur, large achievement gaps remain. The failure to discuss those gaps represents a vast offense too.

All next week, we’ll be reviewing the size of our various gaps. We’ll consider the gap between “the rich and the poor,” the gap to which Eduardo Porter referred in a recent column. (See part 1 of this series.)

But we’ll also look at the very large gaps between our white kids and our black kids.

The press corps has refused to report the strong score gains achieved by black kids. But in various ways, the press corps also refuses to discuss the size and significance of the gaps, which do remain quite large.

Tomorrow, we’ll review some recent examples of this avoidance. We need to hear about those score gains. But if we care about black kids, the gaps must be discussed too.

Tomorrow: Recent avoidance/evasion

All next week: The size of the gaps

To access data from the NAEP: To access data from the NAEP, you should learn to use the NAEP Data Explorer. This would place you light-years ahead of our “education reporters.”

Click here, then click on MAIN NDE. Click again to agree to the terms. From there, you’re on your own!

This less powerful tool, NAEP State Comparisons, may be simpler to work with. It provides national data along with state-by-state scores.

85 comments:

  1. Is Somerby aware of the literature on stereotype threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does the question have any relevance to this posting?

      What mechanism within NAEP does the commenter perhaps suggest transmits stereotype threat?

      Is the commenter, anyway, aware of the literature which sharply draws into question whether the effect occurs at all? That other researchers fail to replicate the Steele/Aronsen finding? That other research, which has been replicated, explains the supposed "stereotype threat" effects? That other, other research suggests an inversion of the supposed effect, with performance *increasing* based upon perceived stereotyping? Etcetera, etcetera.

      Or is, perhaps, the commenter simply a troll?

      Delete
    2. Sackett's criticisms are valid but no one here is saying that stereotype threat would entirely eliminate the racial gap -- Sackett's concern. Stereotype threat might account for some of it and for the persistence of a gap despite the fact that both group scores are improving.

      Delete
    3. There is also a gap between test scores and performance on actual tasks in the classroom (reflected by gpa). If black students do not test well but can otherwise do the work, then something like test anxiety would explain the difference. If they cannot do the work either, that is a different situation. Is it clear what is actually happening?

      Delete
    4. It's clear what's happening in these comments...

      Delete

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      Delete
  2. " . . . black elementary school students now have better math skills than whites had only 20 years ago."

    Great! They are only 20 years behind now. Oh the gains!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The above comment illuminates the futility inherent in any attempt to finally award the "Stupidest Somerby Troll Ever" cup.

      Delete
    2. ...a most highly coveted trophy, based on the intensity of the competition!

      Delete
    3. Only 20 years behind, and that's in fourth grade. For 12th grade

      The black-white gap continues to be the largest one, with black students scoring about 30 points below their white peers on both tests in 2013. Looked at another way, in reading, 47 percent of white students scored proficient or above, compared with 16 percent of blacks. And in math, 33 percent of white students scored proficient or above, while only 7 percent of black students did the same.

      Further, the score gap in reading between black and white students has increased by 5 points since 1992.

      Delete
    4. Shame on you 2:13!

      Americans are not permitted to hear about the large gains at the 4th and 8th grade level. Here at the Howler you are.
      You are just advised not to look at what happens at the
      12th grade.

      Delete
  3. OMB (Avoiding things with the OTB)

    Your Somerby at Work:

    "Tomorrow: Recent avoidance/evasion

    All next week: The size of the gaps

    To access data from the NAEP: To access data from the NAEP, you should learn to use the NAEP Data Explorer. This would place you light-years ahead of our “education reporters.”

    Click here, then click on MAIN NDE. Click again to agree to the terms. From there, you’re on your own!

    This less powerful tool, NAEP State Comparisons, may be simpler to work with. It provides national data along with state-by-state scores."


    Isn't BOB the helpful blogger! But could it be that we need not wait until tomorrow for avoidance/evasion? Could BOB be engaging in the same thing right in this very post and already in this wonderful series?
    To explore that let's use a BOB tool, and paraphrase/plagiarize/parody something from Part 1 of this growing opus.

    "Extra credit—close reading assignment: At one point, BOB makes a fleeting...reference to ... another source about large gaps which still obtain between our white kids and our black kids.

    Questions:

    Can you see where that hidden reference occurs? Why is the...reference never part of BOB's instructions on how to use NCDES data?

    Oh yes, and a double bonus from your old extragalactic troller accused by defenders of the BOBfaith of mental problems:

    Why doesn't BOB care about Hispanic kids?


    KZ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Matt we knew you had no clue. It has been a long term trend.

      KZ

      Delete
    2. Well, KZ, I find his use of NAEP data rather, dare I say it?, fuzzy and confusing.

      For example, we are told what white fourth graders scored in 1990, and how black fourth graders caught up with that in 2005 and 2007.

      But we are not told how white fourth graders scored in 2005 and 2007, so we have no idea if the gap still persists.

      Nor are we told what black students scored in 1990, so we have no idea how big the gap was then, and to see if it has narrowed or widened over the last 24 years.

      Bob does tell us that between 1996 and 2013, black 8th graders gained 23.45 points. But again this does not tell us the gains or losses by other race/ethnic groups. For instance, if white students gained 33.45 points in the same time frame, then the gap has widened.

      Now I guess that since Bob has promised us that it will take all month for him to get to his point, it might be a bit premature to accuse him of cherry-picking the data that fits his narrative. But I certainly hope he adds some context, as well as trend lines, that indicate that the years he chose weren't simply anamolies.



      Delete
    3. You are warm, 2:14. You passed close to part of the hidden reference. You made no effort at the double bonus.
      As a teaser to promote interest, we ask this?

      In this third part of the series, why have we read more test scores from one girl from Tuscaloosa than we have from our nation's largest minority group?

      KZ

      Delete
    4. KZ - also don't forget about the problematic numbering of the posts.

      Delete
    5. KZ is arguing with himself again.

      2:14 -- he says that even though black kids in 2005/7 caught up with white kids earlier scores, the gap persists because the scores of the white kids also increased. That is said right there in the post.

      Delete
    6. KZ - do you want to stop suffering or continue to suffer?

      Delete
    7. KZ, if you see where Bob is going, please help me out. He seems to be lost in the tall weeds and doesn't know himself where he is headed.

      Back in Part 1, was Bob referring to Porter's reference to the US's low standing in international testing results? Which, of course, wouldn't be his "gold standard" NAEP.

      I also see that he goes back and forth in Part 1, admitting that the gap between whites and black students still persists, and that is important, but black students have made gains compared to black students years ago, and that's important too.

      But only the persistent gap gets reported, not the gains black students have made compared to black students.

      Well, when everyone makes big gains, doesn't that indicate that the test itself, if not the scoring, might have changed as well?

      Delete
    8. We won't @ 2:40. And thanks for still enjoying an old joke.

      While we are on numbers, how many words were there in Hannah-Jones's piece on Resegregation in Tuscaloosa?

      KZ

      Delete
    9. "That is said right there in the post."

      Yes, but Bob fails to supply the supporting data so we can compare apples to apples.

      Crack analyst of NAEP data that he is, it would have been easy to show us.


      Delete
    10. Gack, 2:50. We have enough trouble counting the number of posts in a series despite BOB numbering them. Do you now expect us to measure the height of the weeds BOB seems to be lost in just because you imply they are tall?

      Delete
    11. "Why doesn't BOB care about Hispanic kids?"

      One suspicion: Is it because Hispanic kids have made even larger gains in the same test scores than black kids have over the past 16, 20, 24 years or whatever time period Somerby hits on next?


      Delete
    12. The problems faced by Hispanic kids are different than those faced by African American kids, both in our schools and in society. Both are important but they are not the same topic.

      Delete
  4. A word of gratitude for the first D'Leisa/Tuscaloosa-free post in quite some time.

    Ordinarily that's Bob's way of handling his mistakes. They simply disappear.

    But perhaps, given he's promised us days, weeks and perhaps a full month on this subject, that we are being premature. The plight of D'Leisha still struggling to get into a four-year college could certainly return.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meanwhile, rube running over at the One True Channel goes uncorrected.

      Delete
    2. I strongly suspect that Rachel Maddow has been disappeared from these environs because somebody form whom Bob has at least some degree of respect finally got through and begged him to stop making an ass out of himself.

      So he had to find an entirely new way to make an ass out of himself. And it's back to the old reliable NAEP anaylsis.

      Delete
    3. Reading the posting, and then the comments... the assery seems mostly to be confined to the latter.

      Ok, today it's entirely the latter.

      Delete
  5. "But in a weird act of fealty to elite propaganda about our allegedly failing schools, our journalists almost never tell the public what NAEP data seem to show."

    Every year journalists are required return to their alma maters* where, along with graduating seniors, they reaffirm their fealty in what those who have witnessed it describe as a "weird" act. The act is so weird, in fact, it cannot be described in a generally accessible blog without both trigger warnings and an encryption process which renders the description blank to those easily micro offended.

    Warning: The allegations about public school failure contained in the propaganda to which you will be momentarily exposed have been known to cause dues payment seizures, tenure declination, and "R" bomb sputtering among those exposed to it without years of uncaring developed from professional practice of journalism. The acts you will witness, while "weird", are harmless if safe distances are maintained. They may, however, induce fear of conspiracies whenever journalism products are consumed.







    You are now considered safe to view and discuss NAEP data without fear of offending the elite.

    * Journalists without alma maters are allowed to spend the time at the drinking establishments at which they were educated in the school of hard knocks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The refusal to report these facts has represented an act of vast journalistic misconduct. That said, our journalists offend against the interests of black kids in a wide array of ways."

      In secret proceedings, many journalists have been absolved
      of all offenses against black kids because their editors did not tell them they had to stay in their cars. Others were simply granted immunity for performing weird acts of fealty.

      Delete
  6. OMB (Avoiding Things With the OTB)

    Part 1.91

    It will soon be four hours since we gave our close reading assignment.
    With no sincere entrants, we have concluded BOBfans don't really care about educational statistics, or at least those which cast doubt on the findings handed down from Mt. Bullroar. You have until 5:18 to take your best shot!

    Once again: What is the hidden source BOB alludes to but does not help you find? Double bonus: Why doesn't BOB care about Hispanic kids?

    KZ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought I took a stab at this. Bob alludes to the PISA, which was the test Porter used to measure the socioeconomic gap. That test apparently shows U.S. kids lagging far behind kids in other countries, but measures a huge gap in performance between rich U.S. kids and poor U.S. kids.

      Second, Hispanic students made bigger gains than black students -- and even with those gains the gap between them and white students has widened.

      This leads me to suspect that something has changed with the NAEP testing or scoring itself, over whatever time span Somerby is looking at, which seems to jump around.

      Delete
    2. Oh, and inconclusion, Bob doesn't care about Hispanic kids because reporting the gains they have made -- as well as all students -- would provide context that would "seem" to indicate that the gains made by black students weren't so extraordinary after all.

      Despite the wonderful fact that black kids now are scoring as high as white kids 20 years ago! Oh, joy in the morning!

      Delete

    3. What is the hidden source?

      "We refer to average scores by black students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the widely-praised “gold standard” of domestic educational testing.

      The NAEP is a federally-run testing program which dates, in one of its two major forms, all the way back to 1971.

      Does BOB tell you how to click to both major forms? We didn't think you would say yes.

      Why doesn't BOB care about Hispanic kids? We have no way of knowing that he does or does not. That said, they haven't been mentioned much. Alas. We don't know.

      KZ

      Delete
    4. A Special Note to 5:24-5:26

      On your planet, due to progressive thinking designed to improve self esteem you are to be given the same prize as everyone else just for participating.

      On our planet, wrong answers call attention to those who give them. We wouldn't be showing that ribbon off too gleefully if we were you.

      KZ

      Delete
    5. An Additional Note to 5:24-5:26

      In response to your earlier question. If you look along the top of the tall weeds line you may see the tops of the Cherry Trees. Head that way if you are lokking for BOB.
      He promised to serve cherries all next week so he has to go there first and pick some.

      Delete
    6. Speaking of cherry-picking, if you were truly interested in measuring the "gap" wouldn't you measure cohort to cohort, rather than comparing today's fourth graders to fourth graders from however long ago?

      As I understand it, the "trend" assessment is given every four years. What is the gap like between today's 12th graders, compared to when the same group took the test four years ago, and eight years ago?

      Is it growing or narrowing, or remaining the same?

      To me, comparing the scores from today's fourth graders to an entirely different set of fourth graders 20 years or whatever date Somerby wants to choose really doesn't tell us much, giving the vast technological changes that have happened since then.

      And it's even less meaningful when you pull out a subset -- black fourth graders 20 years ago vs. black fourth graders today -- and cheer the gains they made, especially without providing the context of how Hispanic and white students have performed over the same time period.

      And no, merely saying "white students made gains too" isn't quite the same as providing the data for black kids, then not providing the same date for white kids.

      Delete
    7. When someone writes a blog, they choose their topic. Complaining that they didn't write what you wanted is foolish. That applies to statistical comparisons too.

      Delete
    8. Those cherries are not just low lying fruit irish guy. They are the ones that hop in the basket all by themselves.BOB, by selecting cherries from the MAIN NDE tree picks fruit very sweet to his tastes. They get sweeter still if he gets to pick which branch year the berries are first picked from and what year the berry picking stops.

      We shall see how he well he has done when he gets into serving us his pie.

      But you are right. The "trend" assessment is done every four years and is the one with data that goes all the way back to 1971. When you access the NAEP page you click on LTT NDE, not MAIN NDE.

      We don't want to spoil BOB's fun next week when he promises a serious look at numbers, but you notice today's data was about score gains. The series is supposed to be about gaps. Those are two different things.

      Maybe BOB thinks his readers are rubes and won't notice that.

      KZ

      Delete
    9. Yes, and I already took a gander at the LTT NDE, thanks to the kindness of Anonymous 5:43 who provided a link. As I noted, no wonder Bob doesn't want his rubes going there. Not quite the picture he wants to paint, is it?

      And I already note we got one of them at 6:30 lecturing us that a blogger has a divine right to pick his subject. Well, yes. I do not disagree.

      A blogger also has the divine right to change subjects and hope his rubes won't notice, or to cherry-pick the data and years that seem to follow no logical pattern.

      But then again, if he runs a combox to make his blog more interactive, then shouldn't others call bullshit on what should be an egregious insult to the intelligence of his remaining readers?

      Or does that still his fans all sad and weepy?

      Delete
    10. I call bullshit on you.

      Delete
  7. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_222.85.asp

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    Replies
    1. Thank you.

      Using the years Somerby chooses, in 1996 the gap between white fourth graders and black fourth graders in math was 25 points. In 2012 (with a test revised in 2004) it remained at 25 points.

      In 1996, the gap between white and Hispanic fourth graders in math was 22 points. It was 17 points in 2012.

      Cohort to cohort, the black/white gap between 2012 seniors in high school was 26 points. It was 28 points when the took the test in 8th grade, and 24 points when they took it in fourth grade.

      The Hispanic/white gap? 19 points as seniors (2012), 23 points as 8th graders (2008), 16 points as fourth graders (2004).

      And by the way, according to this table, white fourth graders in 1990 scored 235 in math, NOT "White students, 1990: 218.63" that Somerby claims, a score that black students still haven't caught up with.

      No wonder Bob wanted to keep us away from this particular "major form" -- the "Long Term Trend Assessment" test and chooses instead to cherry-pick and direct us toward the one that fits his narrative -- the Main NAEP.

      Delete
    2. Comparisons between seniors are problematic because weaker students drop out before 12th grade in some districts but are included in others.

      Delete
    3. These are national average scores, not school district by school district.

      I will agree that students drop out between 4th and 12th grade, but wouldn't that tend to narrow the racial and ethnic gap?

      Delete
    4. Why don't you read some technical analysis of what the phenomenon of dropouts does to these scores for 12th grade instead of speculating about it? Or you could ask Somerby about it -- oh, wait, you think he's a clown.

      Delete
    5. I know you think you;re really being clever. But if a kid has dropped out before 12th grade, then he/she is not taking the test. Shouldn't that improve the average national score?

      Delete
    6. " . . . weaker students drop out before 12th grade in some districts but are included in others."

      Oh I see. In "some" school districts, they round up all the droputs and make them take the test.

      Delete
    7. This is an interesting exchange but a little unsupported by the data. The Long Term Trends NAEP tests students by age, not grade. The age is based on the date of birth in a range at the time of the testing, not necessarily the grade in which the student is enrolled at the time of the test.

      The argument about the drop out rate or student retention as it impacts NAEP test results applies whether the test is the LTT or Main NAEP given to 17 year olds or 12th graders. It is simple. Marginal sudents who are retained in school as a result of drop out prevention programs are now added to the pool of test takers and thus, in more recent years, theoretically lower scores because they would have left school before the test was taken.

      We would simply note that improvements in student retention is a fairly recent phenomenon, while stagnant score results in the NAEP results for the older students is maintained over a long time.

      We will wait to see what BOB does when he tries to present more data. We will, because others have jumped into this discusssion, note that when the two tests were examined to determine reliability because of their differences, the only major difference was that the NAEP Main test showed much more significant improvement than the LTT in, guess what? Fourth grade math. And what data does BOB use to start his series with? The sweetest of the berries, fourth grade math.

      KZ

      KZ

      Delete
    8. We apologize. BOB starts with 8th grade math then jumps to 4th grade. Here is what the vailidity study of NAEP says:

      "Differences between Main NAEP and Long-Term-Trend average annual change parameters are statistically significant only for mathematics at the elementary and
      middle school levels."

      For the elementary level: "Both assessments show positive and statistically significant average annual change
      measures. The Main NAEP rate of increase, 1.48 scale points per year, is greater than that for Long-Term Trend, 0.78 scale points per year."

      For middle schoolers: "Both assessments show positive average annual increases. The Main NAEP rate of increase, 0.92 scale points per year, is greater than that for Long-Term Trend, 0.68 scale points per year."

      http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED514137.pdf

      The more interesting point, however, is not differences in gains, but changes, if any, in gaps. And when those changes occur.

      KZ

      Delete
    9. All is clear now. KZ is here picking on Bob Somerby because he wants to be him.

      Delete
    10. No, KZ is here because he is a black kid and thinks Somerby is a white missionary liberal imperialist.

      Delete
    11. KZ, you can have your own blog. Just go to Blogspot. You don't need to fill up the comments here with your daily garbage. Better yet, go see your doctor and get him to change your meds.

      Delete
    12. And who died and appointed you God?

      Is this the way you deal with people who don't agree with you completely in real life? No wonder you have so many friends.

      Delete
    13. KZ and his sockpuppets are trolls unwelcome on any blog.

      Delete
    14. Aside from the conversations between David in Cal and deadrat, who besides KZ generates the least bit of iterest around here? You think it's Somerby?

      Delete
  8. Bob -- please moderate these comments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, boo hoo! They are making me think!

      Delete
    2. No, they are making me puke.

      Delete
    3. Yes Bob. And read them too. Then you will know the factual errors you have made before Kevin Drum corrects you.

      Delete
  9. Here's another little trick Somerby hopes to fool his rubes with:

    "Over that 17-year period (1996-2013), average scores by black eighth-graders rose by 23.45 points on this “gold standard” testing program."

    Well that might hold water if they were taking EXACTLY the same test in EXACTLY the same way in both 1996 and 2013.

    But something tells me that they constantly tweak the test Bob cites (the Main NDE) and perhaps no longer have students fill in little circles with No. 2 pencils any more.

    And of course, the Main NDE isn't the one designed to measure long-term trends, such as how are our 8th graders doing today compared to 8th graders 17 years ago.

    That's what the Long-Term NDE is for, and that test underwent a major revision in 2004.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think high school is where we really lose kids. It is bizarre to shuttle kids through 6 different 50 minute classes every day while at the same time these kids are experiencing profound biological changes, and expect them to be able to learn much of anything. I would have them take 3 two hour long classes per day. I would make the class size large, and then have smaller follow up labs. I would have open book tests, shorter homework assignments. I would have classes on how to do basic research, how to do critical analysis, how to think logically. I would drop advanced classes. I would have a weekly class that would be something like group therapy. High school kids need less pressure, academically and socially. High school is the same now as it was 50 years ago. Meaningful change seems unlikely. I don't know why. Administrators have no incentive, change is scary, teenagers are annoying?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You are under the impression that high school is for academic learning. It's not. High school has two purposes: it keeps kids out of the job market until they're 18, and it socializes kids. To that latter end, high school is there to teach the following important lessons:

      1. It is better to be rich than poor.
      2. It is better to be pretty than ugly.
      3. It is better to be popular than not.
      4. If you're poor or ugly or unpopular, it's better not to be noticed
      5. Authority is ridiculous.

      A high-school kids' peers will teach him the first 4; the faculty and administration are masters at teaching the last.

      Delete
    2. I excelled in high school because my lower middle class parents expected it and did what they could do facilitate it and I knew it. I excelled in college because my parents expected it and would have kicked me out of the house and stopped supporting me if I didn't but mostly because it never occurred to me to let them down. Dysfunctional as all that sounds.

      Delete
    3. 4:03 my parents were drunks with previous failed marriages before the one which produced me collapsed.
      I excelled in high school because it was easy and college because I was smart.

      Delete
    4. I think you have it about right, deadrat. Just wish things were different.

      Delete
    5. I was average, not exceptionally smart but excelled anyway due to expectations by my parents whose values I internalized and whose opinion I care about. I wish they were drunks with multiple divorces like 6:59's because I probably would have done even better.

      Delete
  11. "It has to be the greatest news you’re not allowed to hear. Over (let’s say) the past twenty years, black kids seem to have made substantial progress in reading and math."

    Excuse me but where is the reading data? Bob won't tell you because reading scores for all racial/ethnic groups -- including black kids -- at each grade level tested by the NAEP Long Term have remained flat for (let's say) the past twenty years.

    And contrary to Bob's assertion the gains that black kids have made on both of the NAEP tests has hardly been hidden. A simple google search will reveal a plethora of information -- including stories in the mainstream press -- concerning the gains that black kids have made.

    Unfortunately, this information is presented in the context that Somerby wants to hide. Yes, black kids have made gains in NAEP scores. So have white kids and so have Hispanic kids.

    And they also note the presence of the elephant in the living room that Somerby wishes us to ignore -- despite some marginal closing over a long period of time, the "achievement gap" between white kids and black kids, and white kids and Hispanic kids continues to persist.

    There is also a wealth of information cautioning amateur analysts from over-interpreting NAEP data and thinking that the test measures more than it was designed to measure.

    In other words, it's a fool's errand to proclaim any one test -- let alone one part of two forms of one test then focus on one subject at one grade level -- as the "gold standard" when there is a multitude of other testing models and data that also provide additional data.

    This is not to say that the NAEP isn't extremely valuable. It certainly is. But it also is what it is, and shouldn't be used as the sole source to reach any definitive conclusion.

    And as has been pointed out, Somerby not only cherry-picks the one form of the NAEP that supports his narrative, he cherry-picks from that one point, choosing his years of comparison, his subject and his grade level very carefully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, instead of reporting the entire NAEP findings in his brief blog posts, Somerby selects only the statistics that support the point he is currently discussing. Fie.

      Delete
    2. He says: ". . . black kids seem to have made substantial progress IN READING [emphasis added] and math."

      Why doesn't he give us reading scores? Because black kids haven't made substantial progress in reading in the time frame he chose.

      Go look it up for yourself. Not that you would. After all, Somerby does all that heavy lifting for you. We'll just cede our own critical thinking skills to him.

      Delete
    3. Somerby has discussed reading scores here before. There is no conspiracy to suppress them. Go away stupid troll.

      Delete
  12. Last January when Drum took Somerby apart over his "legitimate traffic study" nonsense, it was often repeated in the ensuing discussion that, "I stopped reading Somerby regularly when became completely unglued about Rachel Maddow, but he is still good on education."

    After reading this horrible use of data bent out of all context and recognition to fit the pleasing story Somerby wants to tell his rubes, I'm not so sure that "still good on education" applies any more.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Bob -- please ban these trolls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, boo hoo. I just can't stand people from another tribe.

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    2. Comments dominated by schizophrenics and hostility toward the content of this blog stifle any opportunity for discussion. Please moderate these comments.

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    3. Here's a clue for you, junior. A blog post from a self-proclaimed "education expert" that cherry-picks data so cllumsily is hardly worth discussing. And there really aren't more than a handful of people discussing it.

      But let's forget all that. Let's focus instead on the "trolls" who provide more data that adds badly needed context, and then call them schizophrenics when they blow Somerby out of the water.

      And let's pretend it is the "trolls" who are driving people away, not the boring, sloppy, pointless, repetitive and half-baked nature of this blog.

      Now it's time for: "Oh yeah? Then why are you still here?"

      Simple. I love to read sheep cry like babies every time the guy who does their thinking for them is exposed as a fraud.

      Which happens with great regularity.

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    4. The trolls aren't "adding data". They are complaining that different topics weren't explored and pulling more data out of the source cited to go in their own wayward directions, as if that contradicted the blogger. It is an annoying waste of time intended to disrupt discussion of what the blogger actually said.

      Delete
  14. I wish we had statistics by sex and economic class. I believe the black middle class is growing. That alone, could account for some portion of improving black educational results. But, how much improvement is there for an average member of the black middle class or black lower class? It would also be interesting to compare girls and boys.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All that is available, David.

      Delete
    2. Apparently not available on Newsmax, Newsbusters, Breitbart of daily Caller.

      Delete
    3. Excellent essay @ 1:21. Bob should observe your terse, to the point, accurate style.

      Delete

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