Supplemental: Our changing student demographics!


Public school kids, then and now: On several occasions this week, we’ve discussed the nation’s changing student demographics.

Among other things, these demographics affect the chances of providing certain types of racial balance in our public schools. We thought it might be worth taking a look at the basic numbers.

Our data come from the so-called “Long Term Trend Assessment,” one of the major ongoing studies conducted as part of the NAEP. These data give us a look at the student population from 1975 through 2012, the most recent year in which these tests were given.

According to the folks at the NAEP, this was the breakdown of the 9-year-old student population in 1975:
9-year-old student population, 1975
White students: 80 percent
Black students: 13 percent
Hispanic students: 5 percent
“Others” came in at 2 percent. Most likely, that was mainly Asian-American kids.

Our youth population has changed since then. This is the way the numbers looked in 2012:
9-year-old student population, 2012
White students: 53 percent
Black students: 14 percent
Hispanic students: 25 percent
Asian-American students: 6 percent
To review additional data, click here. Scroll down to the “Appendix Tables” at the end of the report.

For the record, we’re in favor of all those kids. We think you should be too.

Are more black kids attending “majority-minority” schools than was the case in the past? These data may help explain that phenomenon.

These data also help explain the general drift in the nation’s test scores. Here’s the way that works:

All these demographic groups have shown large score gains on the NAEP in recent decades. That said, black and Hispanic kids still tend to score lower than white kids—and their percentage of the student population has been rising.

For that reason, overall average scores have risen more slowly than the average scores achieved by the various groups. But each of the demographic groups has been scoring much better.

The rise in the Hispanic population has been quite amazing. As recently as 1996, the numbers looked like this:
9-year-old student population, 1996
White students: 71 percent
Black students: 17 percent
Hispanic students: 8 percent
Asian-American students: 3 percent
At that fairly recent date, Hispanic kids were still just 8 percent of the 9-year-old student population. Sixteen years later, that had risen to 25 percent.

When you see data about the number of kids attending (take your choice) white/black/majority-minority schools, you have to understand those data in terms of these remarkable changes. Our student population is changing. Would it really be too much to ask journalists to keep up?

Tomorrow: A couple of Los Angeles kids we think you ought to root for


  1. Sounds like Bob may be planning to make a great leap into the world of Hispanic students. Or so it seems. You may differ. We don't know you. You are probably nice.

    1. Sounds like Somerby is saying that Hispanic students are not a separate world at all, but an increasingly big part of the student mainstream.

    2. They've been the larger part of the mainstream in my part of the counrty for decades. You wouldn't know about that from reading Somerby. He just doesn't care about brown kids.

    3. Should I assume that you don't care about black kids, because in your area of the country the kids are mostly brown and because you've been commenting here only about Hispanic students? That would be as fair to you as you've been to Somerby.

      Maybe we should be critical of Hannah-Jones because she didn't include any discussion of brown kids in her analysis of resegregation in Tuscaloosa?

    4. FYI @ 4:45

      According to the NCES data base, in the 2011-12 school year there were 54 Hispanic students in Tuscaloosa City's three high schools. None of them went to Central.

    5. My point exactly. Just as Hannah-Jones finds Hispanic students irrelevant to the points she is exploring, so does Somerby find Hispanic students irrelevant to the children in Baltimore who are his primary concern in addressing education issues. Implying that he is a bigot because he does not address issues of Hispanic children would be akin to calling Hannah-Jones a bigot because she is unconcerned with Hispanic resegregation in Tuscaloosa.

    6. If your point is to prove you are not high on the Achievement totem pole, @ 11:01, you have just done so.

      Perhaps you should let Somerby know his blog is just relevant to his base in Baltimore and leave his analysis
      of schools nationally, in DC, in New York, in Minnesota, and the rest of the crab free country alone.

      (Lets see if this makes it to the right spot on the third try)

  2. Nobody really knows how many illegal immigrants currently reside in the US. The fact that Hispanics have increased from 5% to 25% of 9-year olds suggests that the number of illegal immigrants may be larger than the figure of 12 million that's often quoted.

    1. Some people do know how many illegal immigrants currently reside in the US. They know this because, although such immigrants may not be included in the census, they do consume goods and use services and have an impact on the local economies where they live. Sampling from counts conducted by non-governmental organizations can be fairly accurately extrapolated. You should also know that only about half of the illegal immigrants in the US are Hispanic. Many are Asian and many come from Europe or the Middle East or other parts of the world (Haiti, African countries), entering via Canada or by overstaying tourist or student visas. The large increase in Hispanics is largely because of the higher birthrate and because Hispanics tend to be younger (while the white population is aging) not solely because of illegal immigration.

      You really need to stop believing all those stereotypes you hear on Fox News. FYI, people cannot be illegal. It is polite to call people without papers undocumented aliens. Or be consistent and call people with expired driver's licenses illegal drivers and those who haven't bought health insurance illegal livers and treat them all as the criminals they are.

    2. "They know this because, although such immigrants may not be included in the census...."

      Everybody is included in the Census who can be found and isn't too big a libertarian to object to being counted.

      The Census just doesn't ask about the legal status of non-citizens.

      And David, it is immaterial whether the 9 year olds are citizens or non citizens for public school attendance purposes.

    3. Some people who are undocumented do not participate in the census because they fear it will lead to deportation, no matter how many assurances there are to the contrary. There is always an undercount that is adjusted with reference to other sources.

    4. Anon 4:57 -- The term "undocumented alien" muddles two concepts. Suppose a driver carelessly fails to renew his license. Calling him "undocumented" rather than "illegal" makes sense, because he could get a license by simply filling out the paperwork and paying a fee.

      OTOH consider someone who could not get a license. Perhaps he's too young, or he can't pass the vision test, or he can't pass the driving test, or he has too many driving violations, or he has driven while intoxicated. If this person nevertheless drives, he's not just "undocumented". He has voluntarily chosen to break the law. And BTW his action puts the rest of us at risk.

      If some visitor to the US could renew his visa but carelessly failed to do so, I have no problem calling him "undocumented." However, when someone voluntarily chooses to violate our laws and live here indefinitely, then I think "illegal" is the right word.

      P.S. I don't ever watch Fox News.

    5. "There is always an undercount that is adjusted"

      No, there was an overcount. There were some groups overcounted and some undercounted. There were fewer Hispanics undercounted than blacks.

      And there was no adjustment.

    6. I'm not going to argue with you about this. The adjustments come after the main census comes out. There won't be one in 2010 because it takes time to issue the adjustments.

    7. I don't know whether these factors which make a difference to you actually have any impact on the law, but I don't think you fully understand how people wind up undocumented. What about the person who comes to the US as a student, falls in love and stays after graduating from school, without thinking about legality of residence? They may not want to leave the country in order to apply for reentry, as required, because they worry about maintaining the relationship or being permanently separated if denied entry, and the wait can be years. Is that person too merely undocumented or illegal? What about the person who was brought to the US as a child and didn't know he was undocumented until he encountered a situation requiring proof of residence? Is that person illegal when he had no intent to violate any law?

      You are also overlooking the fact that there are very large numbers of Americans living illegally in other countries, just as there are undocumented people living here. Europe has gotten very strict about visa violations but you can read about the dodges on the internet. Some people live permanently in a country but cross the border once every 6 months to maintain their tourist status -- something no longer permitted, so there are discussions of ways to avoid having your passport stamped. Are they undocumented or illegal? Many enter on tourist visas then find jobs and stay without applying for permanent status, living under the radar as undocumented people do in the US. Some do it to avoid taxes. Some stay because they fall in love and don't want to leave that relationship but haven't enough committment to apply for residence due to marriage. Some don't have the money to leave or live elsewhere.

      If you imagine Americans doing this in France or Thailand or Mexico, perhaps you will have more empathy for the people who are doing it here.

    8. I don't have less empathy for illegal immigrants here than for illegal American immigrants in other countries. I'm the son of an immigrant who came to this country in desperate straits, My gardener is a legal Mexican immigrant. Some of his employees were illegal immigrants. They're nice people and hard workers.

      However, the point is that any country must have the right and the ability to define who can live there and who can be a citizen. The US has generous quotas for legal immigrants. There is a burden to becoming a legal immigrant. I don't think it's right to give priority to a group of people who didn't follow the rules, just because there's a lot of them.

      BTW amnesty for illegal immigrants will be bad news for poor Americans, including poor blacks, because the new immigrants will drive wages down for the lowest paid workers. That's why big business wants amnesty.

    9. No, just give priority to software engineers who will take high tech jobs and folks from Western Europe.

    10. Why are conservatives so stingy and why is accumulating money their only value?

    11. Anon 11:06 -- Here are the answers to your two questions:

      1. Conservatives are actually more generous than liberals

      When an empirical study of the actual behavior of American conservatives and liberals was published in 2006, it turned out that conservatives donated a larger amount of money, and a higher percentage of their incomes (which were slightly lower than liberal incomes) to philanthropic activities.

      Conservatives also donated more of their time to philanthropic activities and donated far more blood than liberals.

      2. Some people seem to believe that wealth comes from nowhere or from nature or from God. In fact, it comes from working people. Money is a measure of goods and services created. People who make a lot of money generally have contributed a lot to society. The taxes paid by the wealthy support all that the government does.

    12. Point the first: Conservatives are actually more generous than liberals.

      Yep. Another unsourced claim by DAinCA. His link takes you to Newsmax and Thomas Sowell, which should be a bright red light and a loud siren. Sowell references a 2006 "empirical study." Given the date of the "study" and the aside that its data showed that its liberal sample was richer than its conservative sample, we can be fairly sure that the "study" was a book, Who Really Cares? by Arthur Brooks.

      And no surprise, it's mostly bullshit. From its reliance on a survey that was pretty fuzzy about the terms "liberal" and "conservative" to its ignoring the fact that conservatives gave more to their churches, which don't really do much philanthropic work with the donations. Sure, Willard gave a lot of money to charity, but most of it went to the Mormon Church. Feel free to think that posthumously baptizing Jewish Holocaust survivors into the Mormon Church is charitable work.

      Point the second: People who make a lot of money generally have contributed a lot to society

      What is this? Some form of Stockholm Syndrome? Just take the Walton family of WalMart fame. There are six Waltons on the Forbes' list of wealthiest Americans, and Forbes estimates their net worth at just south of $150B, more wealth than the bottom 2/5 of the country. They did nothing to earn the money; it's inherited. Their company -- they own over half the stock -- pays minimum wage, while it busts unions and flouts labor laws.

      Here's the Waltons "contribution to society." When one of their employees suffered brain damage when she was hit by a truck, WalMart's insurance paid for her hospitalization. Her family sued and won a settlement from the trucking company for her long-term (read the rest of her life) care. WalMart sued the woman to recover their out-of-pocket costs and won. Only the unrelenting bad publicity stopped them from collecting.

    13. Yes, and the rich give money to museums and symphonies, deduct it from their taxes, then attend free as donors.
      Meanwhile, the hoi polloi, who can't afford to go join the fancy venues, have to make up for the lost tax revenues.
      So who is really paying for that "culture"?

      DinC said it. "Some people seem to believe that wealth comes from nowhere or from nature or from God. In fact, it comes from working people."

    14. The USA has benefitted enormously from its immigrants. Why then does it follow that we must have strict immigration laws?

    15. 10:59 the USA now bears no resemblance to the USA that benefitted from immigrants.

    16. @ Deadrat 3:11 Poor people here and around the world will be so much better off when Christian churches end their charitable activities and leave it up to GLAAD and other "compassionate progressives."

    17. @ 12:17 you did not elaborate on why the US bears no resemblance now to the USA of old. Perhaps you can share more of your thoughts with TDH readers.

    18. I'll put Doctors without Borders up against your Christian missionaries any day of the week.

      But just to reiterate the point, when you compare "conservative" charitable giving to "liberal" charitable giving, discount by about 80% the part of the former that goes to churches.

      Clear now?

    19. The top 4 US charities are religious and donations to churches also go toward charitable missions. Christian charities out raise and outspend "doctors without borders" many times over. Christians tend to be more charitable than atheists since atheism a lack of charity and charity are equally legitimate.

  3. OMB (Secrets to BOB's Cherry Pie Revealed!)

    Part 1

    Interesting. What do we glean from BOB's foray into the world of the Long Term Trends reports? Demographic changes? That, like the wage gap, can be found in Census reports.

    What else will we find BOB?

    Yesterday BOB treated you to some awesome math scores to show how bad Mr. Hernandez at the Times was about not showing gains.
    We believe it was 8th grade Math from '96 to 2009 straight from the database of the Main NAEP.

    We think he wrote:

    "By a very rough rule of thumb, ten points on the NAEP scale is often compared to one academic year. As of 2009, black students had gained exactly 21 points over a thirteen-year span.

    (You’ll note that they gained almost nine points on white kids during that period.)

    Twenty-one points! That’s a very large score gain, but so what? In line with mandated scripts, mainstream journalists will always report the gaps, but they’ll suppress the gains."

    Let's treat BOB like he's treated someone like, say Hannah-Jones.

    During the equivalent time span on the Long Term NAEP, from '96 to 2008, the gains of both black and white students were half that shown on the Main NAEP. Gains are gains, as we all know. But if you believe in thumbs, perhaps you should keep one of them out of the cherry pie.

    Oh, and Alas! The gaps. Sorry BOB. The nine point closure you pointed to is just a one point change, not statistically significant.

    Of course. like wine making, statistical meme making requires careful selection of the year you pick your fruit. Even for middle school math!
    If you compare '96 to '08 the gap closes a point. If you pick '86 to '08 or even '12, you will find the black-white middle school math achievement gap has gotten four points wider.

    To put it in BOBwords "You’ll note that they lost four points to white kids during that period!"

    But that is just Math for middle schoolers BOBfans. (See page 39 of the NAEP report BOB links)

    If you want to get into math for the wee ones or the high schoolers, let us know. And Gack! What about reading? Can we talk?


    1. In order to argue that Somerby selected the example year he used in order to enhance his point, you would need to show that the year he chose was in fact more favorable to his argument than others he might have chosen. You haven't done that. But you have written a lot of words in a condemnatory tone that implies Somerby has done something wrong. THAT is your real purpose here -- never mind that there is no real criticism supported by facts in your lengthy comment.

    2. When one worships the OTB the facts just can't get in your way.

      BOB selected the year, the age group, the subject, and the test which made the strongest case for his point of view.

      I just demonstrated that had he selected the LTT NAEP instead of the Main NAEP he would have shown half the gain and no significant gap closure. Had he chosen another year he could have shown the gap widened instead of closed.

      "Figures don't lie, liars figure" is an old saying. Believers believe. Our figures come straight out of the report BOB linked to. We even gave you the page number.

      You have, however, inspired us to show more from the LTT report. Because we care about you, the lied to believers.
      the rubes. Losers.


    3. How can that be when his point is that the % of Hispanic kids has increased from 5% to 25%?

      You demonstrate that gaps vary depending on which test you use and which subject and which year. So what? Unless the argument specifically concerns the size of the gap, that variance is irrelevant. You want to make Somerby appear to be a liar. Since he has merely claimed that the gaps remain even when scores increase across groups, your point makes no sense and does nothing to refute his assertion. It is plainly true no matter which year you use, which test and which subject. The amount of the gap does change, but since he has never said it was invariant, that makes no difference and is irrelevant to anything being discussed. It doesn't make Somerby a liar, biased, or in any way dishonest. Unless you are saying that there is some trend counter to what he has been claiming (which you MUST support with data), why does this matter at all?

    4. You seem to be suggesting all comments should be self constrained to immediate matters in each discreet post of BOB. If BOB followed such rules, we might consider it.

      If we did, then in this particular discreet post BOB has told us nothing anyone who reads more than BOB should not already know. The Hispanic population in this country has exploded. And, wouldn't you know it, that explosion is reflected not just in our overall population, but our school population as well.

      BOB's second point, that journalists should keep up with this is ludicrous. As other commenters have pointed out, it is BOB who has been largely ignoring the major demographic change in our school population.

      But you have also challenged us on our assertion that Mr. Somerby is less than veracious. It starts with the first sentence we quoted in our comment.

      There is no rule of thumb, rough or otherwise, that anyone who knows their ass from a kumquat about educational statistics uses to assert 10 points equals a year's worth of academic growth. This has been demonstrated on these comment threads by quotes from and links to NAEP documents themselves. And it is particularly untrue for math. Yet your boy BOB keeps throwing that shit out there like a FOX News hack.

      He hasn't "merely" claimed general statements to be true, he presents the cherriest of numbers to assert facts which are misleading.

      You wrote "unless there is some trend counter to what he has been claiming (which you must support with data)"

      You want more data? From the NAEP LTT report BOB linked in this post!

      There has been no statistically significant change in the gap between black and white students in math:

      At age 9 since 1978.

      At age 13 since 1982.

      At age 17 since 1982.

      There has been no statistically significant change in the gap between Hispanic and white students in math:

      At age 9 since 1973.

      At age 13 since 1982.

      At age 17 since 1986.

      There has been no statistically significant change in the gap between black and white students in reading:

      At age 9 since 1999.

      At age 13 since 1984.

      At age 17 since 1984.

      (There were periods in between where the gap significantly widened)

      There has been no statistically significant change in the gap between Hispanic and white students in reading:

      At age 9 since 1984.

      At age 13 since 1980.

      At age 17 since 1980.

      (There were periods in between where the gap significantly widened)

      Each of these facts can be found in Figures 7-12 and 23-28.

      This whole "month of the gaps" was brought to you courtesy of BOB's reaction to Nikole Hannah's Jones article which focused on resegregation as a possible cause of educational problems. Throughout the series BOB has touted both overall gains on test scores and a reduction of the gaps. The gaps have been significantly reduced. But not since the Civil Rights era ended and desegregation efforts withered away.

      They are beginning to trend in the right direction again. In the "standards" era.


    5. My impression is that Somerby has not been claiming that the gaps have been narrowing. He has been claiming that the gaps remain despite the increases in both black and white scores. I could be wrong, but I do read Somerby regularly and it has not been my impression ever that he is claiming the gaps are closing.

      On the contrary, he has been complaining that the is so little attention to the gaps and that has been the basis for his complaint that people generally do not care about the education of black children.

    6. A while back Deadrat (I think it was) googled that 10-point rule of thumb to see how many people have been talking about it as a rough measure. He said that there were over 200,000 hits and that Somerby accounted for about 200 of them (IIRC). That suggests (1) Somerby didn't make up this rough rule of thumb, (2) he is not the only one using it.

      He has never asserted that it is any kind of precise measurement. The word "rough" means the opposite of precise.

    7. If deadrat googled "Ten point rule of thumb NAEP" the first item he should have noticed to appear is the Thiessen report for the NAEP saying its use should be discouraged.
      This is the one we have linked here several times.

      The second Google item is a report this year in which "the rule" is used as a subheading with no justifcation for its being a rule.

      The next five mentions are all from TDH. The first of those comes from a post BOB did last year devoted specifically to a reader e-mail (he doesn't read your comments, rubes)
      asking about the Ten Point rule. Despite the fact Thiessen
      stated it should not be used in a report for NAEP in 2012, BOB ignored that report. In fact OTB, your education expert wrote this hilarious piece of self revealing nonsense:

      "Where can he find this rule of thumb being used? Offhand, we can’t give specific citations, and it isn’t easy to search for."

      He continues to use it to date. Because "it isn't easy to search for."


    8. If your point is to prove you are not high on the Achievement totem pole, @ 11:01, you have just done so.

      Perhaps you should let Somerby know his blog is just relevant to his base in Baltimore and leave his analysis
      of schools nationally, in DC, in New York, in Minnesota, and the rest of the crab free country alone.

    9. Google finds 5400 hits for "Ten point rule of thumb NAEP"; Fifty of them from TDH.

      Here's the full quote from 11/19/13:

      Where can he find this rule of thumb being used? Offhand, we can’t give specific citations, and it isn’t easy to search for. But education reporters and education “experts” will often apply this ten-point rule when they discuss achievement gaps on the NAEP.

      Whatever TDH meant by his inability to cite the phrase "being used," he clearly wasn't including it's use by "education reporters and education 'experts.'"

    10. Google finds 339,000 hits for "deadrat's head up his butt"!
      Most mention neither you nor "butt."

      And precious few of your hits are to pieces produced by reporters or experts. Most on the topic at hand are to BOB, Borcopiers, Bobfriends, or other bloggers.

      But the first, dear deadrat, is to the NAEP study answering BOB's reuest that they study the "rough rule." They did. They found it invalid. They said its use should be discouraged. BOB didn't listen.


    11. Here's what the NAEP actually says

      Somerby notes in his “warning” that the “rule of thumb” (10 points per year, for the NAEP reading scale) used throughout his interpretation of score change is not officially sanctioned. Nevertheless, this description of the results clearly places them in a context that could make the scores more comprehensible for many who want to interpret NAEP results.

      I followed the google to find the following users of the rule:

      Mother Jones
      a book published by The Brookings Institution
      The Washington Monthly
      CBS news
      The State of Michigan
      Center for Economic and Policy Research
      Democratic Underground

      Then I got bored.

      When are you going to comment again as siva? I like those.

    12. deadrat, NAEP said considerably more than the one paragraph you quoted and we have laid it out in other comments. They said BOB's use of it is wrong and that while it might be a close for reading at one grade level,
      it is way off where BOB has been using it most recently, math.

      But you weren't content to mislead with just that. So let's review your review of your famous Googling.

      Mother Jones...a piece by Kevin Drum based on BOB

      a book published by the Brooking Institution...Google selected this because in is about NAEP scores in the 1990's. The author says "rule of thumb" in one paragraph related to 3 point changes being statistically significant and "10 points" later in the next paragraph on a different matter.

      The Washnington Monthly...again the work of Drum while still a BOB acolyte

      CBS news...a reprint of the same Drum piece...which trashed Mississippi by the way for their weak standards

      The State of Michigan...a reference in a draft for a presentation made in Michigan on diversity by two Northeastern University School of Public Health presenters.

      Center for Economic Policy and Research...this is classic.
      It is a comment to a blog of CEPR written by someone named Fairleft and the reference to the rule of thumb is a quote of Drum reposted from the Daily Howler!

      Democratic Underground...the link is again to a blog comment quoting the Daily Howler.

      You are bored? The totally stupid usually are.

      Seven examples. One an error and six prove our point.


  4. KZ, KZ. Where have I heard of KZ before? Oh, yeah. In the Third Reich, KZ was the abbreviation for Konzentrationslager (concentration camp). Such as: KZ Auschwitz, KZ Buchenwald, KZ Dachau.

    1. Godwin's Law. You lose.

    2. Not a problem for us Anon @ 11:54.

      This is the work of a follower of the OTB. BOB has accused
      one writer of being a McCarthyite on one hand and leading a band of Stalinists on the other.

      Looking for trends we find all three of these notable twentieth century figures were white men born into traditonal Christian married households with strong, working fathers.


    3. What is an OTB?

    4. OTB means One True Bob in KZspeak. It is a play on Bob's term, "One True Channel" -- MSNBC -- where Bob thinks that "liberals" get all their information in this Information Age.

      KZ, my question with Bob's use of statistics is why is the comparison point 1996? What happened in that year that might argue for a correlation, if not cause and effect? Clinton's push for 100,000 teachers to reduce classroom sizes didn't come about until 1998. He did, however, significantly increase Title I funding and began the push to state standards under the title of "accountability." He also was pretty much behind the charter school movement.

      A statistician might want to start at the beginning, when the NAEP -- both of them -- began, then account for the changes in the test itself which has surely evolved over four decades to more accurately answer more accurate questions.

      Or how about 1983, when the landmark "Nation At Risk" report was issued that had a seismic impact, both in Congress and in state legislatures.

      One of the many things recommended in Nation At Risk was massive public investment in early childhood education. Yep, 30 years ago, we knew the benefits of that. As noted, that report helped spawn the "Parents as Teachers" program here in flyover country, and which has also existed for decades in other states as well.

      And interestingly, Bob's only recommendation for closing the gap seems to be to address the "30 million word gap" beginning in infancy -- exactly what "Parents as Teachers" has been doing for 30 years.

      Or you might want to look at scores since 2001 to see if "No Child Left Behind" has had any kind of measurable impact, making note that NAEP changed its test in 2004.

      So why 1996? Bob may have a perfectly valid reason. But he doesn't tell us. And why just 8th grade math? Bob told us of remarkable gains by black kids (and now Hispanic kids) in both math AND reading.

      In his favor, however, he links to the entire NAEP data. The curious can look at that data, in case they were unable to find it using "google", and see how it matches up to what Somerby claims it says -- in all tests at all grade levels.

      But this is like Ann Coulter's famous "footnotes" that were really "endnotes" in one of her book-length screeds, and reviewers marvelled at how much research she had done. But when the Old Bob actually looked up her sources, he found that few of them said what Coulter claimed, and many of them even said the opposite.

      But how many True Coulter Believers bothered to do that, when even book reviewers wouldn't?

      Same thing here. How many True Bob Believers bother to click on the NAEP data to see if his claim of massive gains and shrinking gaps stand the stink test beyond the 8th grade math comparing 1996 to 2013?

      On top of that, my eyebrows go up whenever I hear anyone proclaim one test in a sea of nationally issued standardized testing, much of which pre-dates NAEP by decades, as the "gold standard." You can be pretty much assured that the results of that test will support the argument the writer wants to make, all other data cavalierly cast aside.

      For instance, I am certain a serious researcher would want to also look at ACT and SAT scores -- especially in light of D'Leisha's experience. This of course would be taken by students serious about college. If the "gap" shows up there and persists over decades, well Houston, we have a problem.

    5. KZ couldn't have written this any better.

    6. Anon @ 8:36

      Houston, built on a mosquito infested swamp, will always have a problem.

      Your observations on the origins of OTB are correct.
      When we use terms like liars, rubes, and losers, we are also borrowing phrases and uses from the Master of the Blog.

      The remainder of your comment deserves a more detailed response.

      You ask why 1996 was selected?

      We don't know. It was the choice of BOB, and his stated reason was "We start with 1996, the first year which permits a clean comparison with 2009."

      However this justification, like his "rough rule of thumb" on the meaning of ten points in score difference is, according to the NAEP itself, primarily bovine excretia.

      "Main NAEP assessments change about every decade to reflect changes in curriculum in the nation’s schools; new frameworks reflect these changes.

      Continuity of assessment content was sufficient not to require a break in trends, except in grade 12 mathematics in 2005."

      It is the position of the NCES that you can compare any dates within one test and grade level with some assurance of accuracy except 12th grade Math.

      We have trouble with the degree to which BOB presents numbers which, while accurate on their face, are either carefully selected to present his case in the most favorable light or to reach a conclusion which is beyond what the statistics reveal. This is especially true when you are dealing with subsets of test results, like income and race/ethnicity.

      For an example of both problems at work we need look no further than the post before last and your question about why 1996 was selected. If you go back to 1990, the first year of the NAEP Main test, you still show remarkable gains for all three groups. What you don't show is the 9 point gap reduction between black and white students, a fact BOB chose to specifically mention. It is only a 2 point reduction over 19 years instead of a 9 point reduction over 13 years. In addition, choosing 1996 allows one to show a modest, though unmentioned, closing of the white-Hispanic gap. If one chooses 1990, the gap actually widened a bit, though not significantly.

      Your final point, about looking at other tests, is worthy of a longer discussion than space allows. Suffice it to say whenever a test produces results contrary to a meme, the results may be disappeared or ignored. If someone else, ourselves for example, brings them up, there are excuses why those results are invalid. This is why 17 year old and 12th grade results on the "Gold Standard" NAEP get scant mention around these parts, outside of the comment box.


    7. OTB means One True Bob in KZspeak.

      Wow, how clever. Right up there with the tusk stuff.

  5. @8:36, I don't think Somerby has ever suggested MSNBC is where liberals get all their news. I would suggest though that given most people get the bulk of their news from television that it is probably where many non-liberals and non-ideologues get a so-called "liberal perspective" on the events of the day.

    I think sometimes it's useful for liberals to look beyond their personal tribal bubble and consider how others see them.

  6. If your point is to prove you are not high on the Achievement totem pole, @ 11:01, you have just done so.

    Perhaps you should let Somerby know his blog is just relevant to his base in Baltimore and leave his analysis
    of schools nationally, in DC, in New York, in Minnesota, and the rest of the crab free country alone.

    (Not sure why this got posted in the wrong place below)

    1. Well now it was posted twice in the wrong place!

  7. In looking at this problem, I would hope that Bob compares the performance of African American students attending Central High to the students at Bryant and Northridge. If poor academic performance is can be attributed to an early developmental literacy gap, other African American students in Tuscaloosa would be facing the same challenges as D’Leisha is in getting into college. If the brightest African American students in the other two schools are scoring high enough on the ACT to be accepted into multiple colleges, it would seem that D’Leisha’s school mattered. Simply put, would D’Leisha’s have more opportunities if she lived in one of the other districts?

    The background information given, it would seem that D’Leisha would not have an early language literacy gap. Given our demographics, it may be impossible to not have some single race minority schools. But, if some of the problem is due to the school, we could better address the unique challenges kids face in a de facto segregated school.