THE SIZE OF THE GAPS: Some painful statistics!

THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2014

Part 4—A societal challenge: Within our student population, the gaps—the so-called “achievement gaps”—show up early and often.

Indeed, the gaps exist before our students are even technically students! Case in point:

Last year, in the New York Times, Stanford professor Sean Reardon described the way children from affluent families are pulling away from their middle-class peers in academic attainment. In the course of explaining this new dynamic, Reardon described an early gap—and a societal challenge:
REARDON (4/28/13): It may seem counterintuitive, but schools don't seem to produce much of the disparity in test scores between high- and low-income students. We know this because children from rich and poor families score very differently on school readiness tests when they enter kindergarten, and this gap grows by less than 10 percent between kindergarten and high school.
When he talks about “rich and poor families,” Reardon seems to mean families from the 90th and 10th percentiles by family income. In that passage, he seems to say that a substantial gap already exists on the day children from these two groups show up for kindergarten.

We don’t understand what Reardon means when he says this gap “grows by less than ten percent” as these kids proceed through high school. Presumably, the gap in knowledge and skills is quite large by the end of their high school years—substantially larger than it was when these kids were five or six.

That said, substantial gaps already exist in the first years of life. Tomorrow, we’ll consider the so-called “30 million word gap,” a daunting gap which is said to exist by the time children are 3.

Simply put, kids from low-income, low-literacy backgrounds aren’t immersed in the culture of literacy in the ways their middle-class counterparts are. For kids from high-literacy backgrounds, his immersion starts in the first days of life. It helps produce the achievement gaps which represent a major societal challenge.

A certain class of upper-class liberal seems to enjoy pretending that these gaps don’t really exist. To us, their conduct has the feel of throwback, a throwback to the 1960s, when Hart and Risley hadn’t conducted the research which defined that 30 million word gap.

At that time, it seemed it would perhaps be easy to address the gaps which existed in schools like the ones Jonathan Kozol and Herbert Kohl described in their famous books from 1967, Death at an Early Age and 36 Children.

Today, sensible people know better. But all too often, journalists and professors seem to prefer to run with a bit of a ruse.

Have journalists sometimes avoided the gaps, dumbing us down in the process? We’ll return to that question in Week 3 of this month-long report.

For today, we’ll return to data from last year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to see how large those gaps can be. In our view, those punishing gaps can be painfully large.

The statistics which follow are painful statistics. That said, the problems these statistics capture can’t be confronted as long as upper-class pseudo-liberals keep finding ways to avoid them—keep finding ways to avert our gaze from the problems of low-income kids.

In yesterday's report, we looked at data from last year’s NAEP testing in Grade 8 math. These data can be used to divide the nation’s students into two groups by family income, based on eligibility for free or reduced price lunch.

Again, we’ll note that this is not a measure of poverty. Given current demographics, this measure divides the nation’s student population roughly in half.

According to NAEP data, exactly 50 percent of students tested in Grade 8 math were eligible for free or reduced price lunch last year; 50 percent were not. We’ll refer to these groups as “lower income” and “higher income students.”

As we noted yesterday, there was a substantial gap between these two groups on last year’s Grade 8 math test. As we saw in the data reprinted below, higher-income students scored substantially better.

We’re looking at a substantial gap. If we apply a common but very rough rule of thumb, this gap in test scores could be compared to almost three academic years:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
All public school students, 2013 NAEP

All students: 283.62
Higher-income students: 297.13
Lower-income students: 269.96
Remember—roughly half the higher-income students scored above 297. Roughly half the lower-income students scored below 270.

As such, those average scores seem to define a large gap in academic achievement. This presents a challenge to our schools. It defines an obvious problem in social justice.

Alas! These gaps look worse, become more painful, when we review the average scores attained by higher- and lower-income students in various “racial” groups. As a starting point, this is the way the “income gap” worked among white students:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
White students only, 2013 NAEP

All white students: 293.19
Higher-income white students: 299.80
Lower-income white students: 278.36
Thus defined, the “income gap” among white students was more than 21 points.

A somewhat smaller “income gap” obtained among the nation’s black students. But in both income groups, black kids scored substantially lower than their white counterparts:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
Black students only, 2013 NAEP

All black students: 262.73
Higher-income black students: 275.97
Lower-income black students: 258.46
In these data, we see one of the ugliest statistics we know. By a slender margin, lower-income white students outscored higher-income black students in Grade 8 math last year. We’d call that an ugly fact.

Those are average scores, of course. Many black students scored extremely well in Grade 8 math.

It’s also true that all these scores have been rising in the past several decades. Despite the propaganda you constantly meet in the nation’s leading newspapers, black kids’ math scores have substantially risen in recent decades.

White kids’ math scores are better too. For that reason, the gap persists, although it has gotten smaller.

Despite what you constantly hear from our journalists, black and white math scores are rising. But despite that good news, the statistics we’ve just presented define a major national challenge. The situation isn’t helped when upper-class Princeton professors look for ways to fudge this gap. Nor are things helped when we pretend that things were great at Tuscaloosa’s original Central High, when that city’s black and white kids all attended one high school together.

Those statistics define a large societal challenge. Let’s complete the statistical picture:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
Hispanic students only, 2013 NAEP

All Hispanic students: 271.02
Higher-income Hispanic students: 282.81
Lower-income Hispanic students: 267.50

Average scores, Grade 8 math
Asian-American students only, 2013 NAEP

All Asian-American students: 305.92
Higher-income Asian-American students: 316.53
Lower-income Asian-American students: 289.53
For the record, we’re using the term “Asian-American” in place of the official NAEP language, which refers to “Asian/Pacific Islander” students.

Those data start to define the size of the gaps. They also define a societal challenge—a challenge our journalists and professors may not care much about.

In the days of Kozol and Kohl, we liberals were eager to tackle this challenge. Today, we tend to salonsplain everything else. Our deserving black kids—the D’Leisha Dents, and so many others—are pretty much left on their own.

Life in Princeton can be quite good! Who cares about Tuscaloosa?

Tomorrow: The gaps in Alabama

To access all NAEP data: To access the NAEP data cited above, click here, then click on MAIN NDE (Main NAEP Data Explorer).

Click again to agree to terms; from there, you’re on your own.

94 comments:

  1. Yesterday or the day before, someone pointed out that the average doesn't mean that roughly half the kids are above that number and half below. That is technically correct -- it is the median, not the mean that defines half the group above or below a particular score. Note however that Somerby says "average" not mean. That word usually refers to the mean but can apply to any measure of central tendency, including median. In this case, the scores for the NAEP are a very large sample that is almost certainly normally distributed (forming a bell curve). When a distribution has that shape, the mean, median and mode all occur at about the same place. Thus the mean and median will be close to (if not exactly) the same number. That makes Somerby's statement about half the kids being above the average and half below true even though it does not fit the definition for mean or average. Practically speaking, the number reported will be the median score.

    I know no one asked about this, but it bothered me that this point was raised as if it were a criticism of Somerby's explanation.

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    1. This begs a question you may seem better qualified to address than most.

      Using any kind of rule of thumb, when confronted by a range of performance levels such as those put forth by Somerby, when looking at what he calls "average" is it important to know what percentage are close to average, and what percentage are on extreme ends?

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    2. In a normal distribution there is a statistical rule that says that most of the scores will be bunched close to the mean with very few at the extremes. The closer the distribution is to normal (bell-shaped) the better you can estimate what those exact %s are. But even with roughly normal distributions, about 64% will be within 1 standard deviation of the mean and about 95% will be within 2 standard deviations. You take the score reported as the standard deviation (a measure of variability reported by NAEP along with the means) and add it to (and subtract it from) the mean to determine what top and bottom scores will include 98% of the kids. About 2% will be at the extremes (above or below) those cutoff scores.

      You can assume a normal distribution because the sample is very large and because most measurements of human characteristics form a normal distribution, including most mental measurements.

      Chebyshev's Inequality says this applies even with non-normal distributions. The Central Limit Theorem lets you generalize from the NAEP samples to kids in general.

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    3. Thanks. So must of our kids are close to average, plus or minus a deviation point or two.

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    4. Yes, most of our kids are close to average. Plus or minus a standard deviation is not necessarily just a point or two. How big a standard deviation is (how many points) depends on how spread out the range of scores is and how closely most of the scores are clustered around the mean. You probably shouldn't think of a standard deviation as just a point or two. People who look at means should have a habit of also looking at the size of the standard deviation (roughly the average distance of scores from the mean).

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    5. So getting back to Bob's point about how bad FRLP designations are as a measure of income, if we moved the measurement to a true comparison of scores based on what the real average income is of the families of black and white students, would we or would we not better know how much income and how much race play into all these deviations from the standard?

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    6. I think this is a really interesting question. It may be that most of the impact of poverty comes at the lowest levels of income. Or it could be that income drags all scores down a little bit, no matter how high the student is achieving. Does anyone know if that kind of analysis has been done?

      Have regression analyses been done looking at the relative impact of race and income, in general? I know that is what Herrnstein & Murray were getting at with the Nat Longitudinal Survey of Youth data, in their book, The Bell Curve. They suggested that the impact of race persists after you adjust for a variety of things. There were some technical criticisms of their regression analyses but no one ever invalidated their data -- just their interpretation of it. Does anyone know if that has been done with NAEP data?

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    7. I would love to link you to some research @ 1:14. The last time I did that, however, somebody accused me of being a troll.

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    8. Instead of linking to research and namecalling, why don't you discuss this topic like a real human being?

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    9. I was responding to a question. I believe your repsonse to an effort I made below to help you understand a question that exceeded your achievement level illustrates why I wrote the response to 1:14 that I did. I called no names in my comment above. If you are the "somebody" I referenced, I merely accurately predicted your reaction.

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    10. Troll is as troll does.

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    11. Alternate 7:02

      When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go, you know, I commented.

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  2. If, in the days of Kohl and Kozol, we liberals were eager to tackle the challenge presented by ugly facts, what has changed? Is it that sensible people know better, or have we been dumbed down by journalists?

    Until we know the answer we may perhaps be caught in quite a conundrum: wanting to be caring people eager to accept and address problems but caught in a pseudo liberal ruse of pretending but knowing it is sensible to avert our gaze because the gap is too large and everyone appears to be making measurable progress of some testable sort.

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    1. Schools have improved and that is evident in the increases across the board in NAEP scores. That proves we can make a difference by intervening.

      I don't think we should declare failure until we have tried harder to address this problem. We now know that integrating schools, however important for social and political reasons, did not affect these particular gaps. If we knew nothing about what causes the gaps, it might be OK to shrug and give up, but there is research showing what helps. California's First-Five program is based on that research. Universal preschool is too. Attempts to shift interventions to a point earlier in a child's life are attempts to address these gaps.

      We should be supporting such efforts and working toward expanding them. We should be opposing things like the attempts to defund Head Start and extending support through the early grades, not discontinuing it when a child enters school. We should be investing in parent education (before the birth of the first child) as HMO's like Kaiser do for physical care. We should be putting more money (not less) into early infant nutrition and WIC (no matter how the moms spend the money), and we should be investing in public libraries again, not making them the last priority, renewing adult literacy efforts, and launching a nationwide effort to help parents help their kids, much as has occurred in the effort to reduce childhood obesity.

      If gaps are related to income (even if they are not entirely due to income), we need to address income inequality in a serious way. I think we also need to rethink our attitudes about racism.
      My concern is that an excessive focus on racism as an explanation for everything is incompatible with helping parents learn how to interact with their kids in ways that will help their future academic performance, and incompatible with addressing the self-defeating attitude that succeeding in school is "acting white" and that joining mainstream culture is a rejection of one's identity.

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    2. Isn't mainstream culture, for want of a better term, white?

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    3. No, because white is no longer the majority culture. We are a pluralistic, majority minority culture these days. Dominant culture incorporates elements of various subcultures, so it has become multicultural. Look at who our athletic and music stars are, which movies are most popular, what words are part of our language, what our media focuses upon, which TV shows are popular, what foods we eat, and so on.

      There are areas of the country that are largely white and other areas that are largely a different ethnicity. For example, large areas of California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Florida are strongly Hispanic. Many urban areas (due to the diaspora) and areas of the Southern US are strongly African American, areas of MA and Appalachia are Irish, and so on. If you look around you and see that your friends and relatives are mostly white, that doesn't make this a white culture or white mainstream (any more).

      Europe is going through this same transition from being predominantly homogenous racially or ethnically, to being multicultural due to the influx of people from their former colonies and the broader EU.

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    4. So there is no mainstream culture any more.

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    5. @ 11:53 et al, this is a very interesting discussion, Don't get me wrong. Most enlightening. But let's not lose the
      point I want pondered or the query posed. What has cause us liberals to change?

      The suggestion seems to be we either know better or we have been dumbed down. I am not sure which it is.

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    6. Mainstream culture is the one that surrounds you now. There is more similarity between one place and another in the US, despite all the regional and ethnic variations. That similarity is the mainstream culture.

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    7. @12:32 -- there is a mainstream culture. It is multicultural and pluralistic in its influences but there is a dominant culture. It is the one communicated by our media. People also have individual cultural identities which may or may not be pluralistic (depending on whether they are biracial or come from mixed-culture families or participate across subcultures).

      @12:37 -- I am not sure what you mean by "know better." I don't see that liberals have changed. One of the reasons I admire Hillary Clinton is that she has been working toward these goals and holds what I consider to be liberal values when it comes to helping women and children. In CA, Rob Reiner hasn't lost his focus, nor have those trying to improve education and social services. It has become harder because of the economy and the dominance of Republicans at the national level, but liberals are achieving their goals in CA. Obama never was a liberal -- anyone closely reading his platform and campaign statements would have known that.

      Who exactly are you giving up on?

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    8. Thomas Frank has an interesting theory. The "Reagan Revolution" caused "the left" to change.

      Reagan moved the "right" farther to the right. In response, the "left" moved to the center. He frequently asks where is the "center" if the right is way out there and the left is the new "center."

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    9. Did the left change or did the politicians change in order to get things done in congress? There is a gap between what politicians do and what their constituents want. Have the people's opinions moved to center?

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    10. @ 12:37 here, @ 12:49.

      This piece says some remind TDH of the 60's, when we were committed to solve the gap and thought it would be easy. He then says, "Today, sensible people know better."
      So why have we changed?

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    11. No, the nation changed. It was the nation that elected Reagan, then heard him proclaim "Government is the problem" in his first inaugural address. That is a very popular message for people looking for simple answers to complicated problems.

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    12. Thanks irishguy. It is good to know liberals haven't changed. Just the nation. So Somerby should quit picking on liberals. Especially ones who were not alive to cause or be blamed for Reagan.

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    13. In the late 70's the Democratic Party began an aggressive strategic effort to pursue corporate money. Nowadays liberal champions give personal $200,000 speeches before the shadiest of financial operators. Populist economic policy is given lip service at best, corporate friendly neoliberalism has taken it's place. Liberals have shunted "class conscious", "pocket book" politics aside in favor of "racial identity" politics in seemingly direct proportional measure. Not to worry, with either liberal or conservative, big money always eventually gets it's way.

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    14. Let us never forget the sacrifice of those from a disappearing generation made on this date.

      FDR saved capitalism.

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  3. I am fearful about tomorrow's post. It could, with a focus on a single state from the Old Confederacy, feed regional tribal bias.

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  4. Is TDH saying income explains everything after you take what race explains into account?

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    1. I think he is saying that race explains more than is explained by just income differences, because gaps remain beyond what is accounted for by income.

      Note that low income whites perform better than high income black students. That suggests racial differences persist beyond income differences. Income explains the variability within each racial group, not across groups.

      You then need to figure out what it is about race that causes those remaining differences. Is it physiological, cultural, or environmental? For example, Kevin Drum thinks it is caused by lead in paint and from cars. African Americans are more likely to live closer to freeways and in housing where lead has not been eradicated, or to use cheap products from places like China that ignore protection laws, so they have perhaps been more exposed to lead which has been shown to affect learning. Or perhaps it is nutritional and related to a difference between eating habits of poor white and black people, such as absence of grocery stores in inner city neighborhoods, forcing a diet of more snack and fast food for black children? Or maybe it is due to a vicious circle of lower literacy among black parents because a parent who cannot read has difficulty encouraging kids to read. It may also be due to parenting habits that keep black kids indoors more (in dangerous urban neighborhoods) to keep them safe and away from bad influences, resulting in restricted experiences and impoverished language acquisition and less understanding of the wider world. White poor in contrast tend to live in rural areas and may not be as likely to be low literacy or restricted in their play and exploration, despite their poverty. Or it could be child rearing practices in which black children are taught to be quiet and not act up, restricting their play and opportunities to talk with others, so that they will attract less punishment and attention from white people they will encounter, out of fear they may treat them harshly (aka lynching in an earlier time period, firing from jobs or police/social service involvement today). Ideas of what constitutes a well behaved child may be more restrictive in black culture, punishment by parents harsher, resulting in less exploration and less play and less use of language early on. Or perhaps younger kids spend most of their time being watched by older kids instead of adults, resulting in slower language learning and less effective caretaking. The bigger the family, the less well the younger kids do academically (irrespective of whether there is a father in the home). These are some things suggested as possible explanations sociologically. Maybe some of them are right and maybe there is something else I have overlooked or that hasn't been identified. Whatever is the case, we should be looking for effective interventions.

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    2. So we don't know. But we should find out and intervene.
      We can't because the upper class pseudo liberals are content with pushing the plutocrat agenda because it is career advancing for them.

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    3. But also, when even talking about race makes someone a racist, there is no chance to talk about how to change child-raising practices or cultural beliefs. Also, it sounds a lot like blaming the victim to suggest that some kids are doing poorly because of their parents.

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    4. Also, it sounds a lot like blaming the victim to suggest that some kids are doing poorly because of their parents.

      Their lousy parents who produce them without regard to how they will be taken care of and educated aren't victims, they are negligent to abusive parents.

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    5. I assume you are a big supporter of birth control and abortion clinics? Or do you think people shouldn't have sex unless they are married and have a good job and plenty of money in the bank?

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    6. Perhaps caring white families could adopt a family of black children. The mother of the children could help with the housework, the white mother could work on the children's vocabulary, and the white father could provide the positive feedback.

      We know from our brutal history this is the way initial literacy was established among disposseseed African tribes
      brought to our land and introduced to the joys of Jesus.

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    7. Lead? Really?

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    8. 2:25 No one should risk having a child unless they are ready to provide him two parents in the same household at least one of which works and earns enough to support him. Have surgery to become sterile if you are not prepared to do this should other forms of birth control fail. They should not abort a human being they conceive because killing human beings is wrong.

      It's too much to ask of some people, those who don't care about neglecting the children they produce or might produce. It's more than reasonable for anyone else.

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    9. So, shall we sterilize all teens then?

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    10. No, 7:00. We should just provide teens mothers and their babies into mandatory classes and require them along with the fathers and grandparents to pay at least part, iof not all of the cost.

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  5. Hart and Risley still don't seem to address which is more important in the learning process, the sheer volume of vocabulary or the threshold of positive to negative feedback. Even if we solve one, what happens if we don't address the other? Forget press coverage on this one. Where do our schools of education stand on this?

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    1. I take it you either don't know the answer are or unfamiliar with the work of Hart and Risley.

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    2. Or another alternative is that I am familiar with the work of Hart and Risley but not their names -- findings often get talked about without the author names. What kinds of responses do you expect when you post something without any explanation or any link to a prior discussion?

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    3. So I guess you just read the newpapers for the funnies and the blogs for the comment box?

      You called me a one word name. I won't do the same. If I did it would start with "d" and end with a double "s".

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    4. So I guess you just posted about Hart & Risley to call others dumb and not to seriously discuss anything. That makes you a troll.

      If you were serious, you would have related your question to something we were discussing and explained what study you were talking about using something other than just the author names (anyone can Google). You would have explained why you were asking, making some point about it.

      Hart & Risley don't address your question because it makes no sense. Others have found the same tendency to use harsher discipline among lower income people. But why would it be an either/or question? Do you think lower income families would do fine literacy-wise if they were just nicer to their kids?

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    5. My guess, 2:39 is that the person who called you a troll is the same one who leveled the same accusation against a comment yesterday which actually did link a study.

      You and I may have understood Hart and Risley's study is discussed in the opening of this post by Somerby. This poor soul may not. At the risk of further engendering his/her wrath, let's try this:

      http://centerforeducation.rice.edu/slc/LS/30MillionWordGap.html

      It is a nice easy to read summary for her/him.

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    6. When people want to discuss something, they do so. When they want to play gotcha, they post cryptic nonsense and wait to see how they can call stupid.

      You are a troll. You have no serious interest in the topics discussed in this blog and you do not belong here. Go away.

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    7. Please enlighten us with examples of your serious interest
      in the topics.

      As best I can guess, you have been here since yesterday attempting to impede any interjection of serious academic study into the discussions by commenting with a single epithet.

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    8. @ 12:50/2:08/2:35/3:17

      Somerby wrote:

      "Tomorrow, we’ll consider the so-called “30 million word gap,” a daunting gap which is said to exist by the time children are 3.

      Simply put, kids from low-income, low-literacy backgrounds aren’t immersed in the culture of literacy in the ways their middle-class counterparts are. For kids from high-literacy backgrounds, his immersion starts in the first days of life. It helps produce the achievement gaps which represent a major societal challenge.

      A certain class of upper-class liberal seems to enjoy pretending that these gaps don’t really exist. To us, their conduct has the feel of throwback, a throwback to the 1960s, when Hart and Risley hadn’t conducted the research which defined that 30 million word gap."

      Perhaps you need an apology for others taking a prompt from Somerby and jumping ahead of him in discussing Hart and Risley. That is what happens when you mix different achievement levels in the same comment box.

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    9. I apologize for calling you a troll if you were sincere. But there is no reason why one explanation precludes the other. Why cannot it be that hearing fewer words AND hearing more punishment-related talk both lead to different academic achievement? Why must we pick one approach and not address them both?

      That's why your comment sounded kind of trollish to me. It seemed to be saying "Is a car was really effective without wax? If we cannot wash and wax the car then we shouldn't do anything to it at all."

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  6. A real puzzle. Everyone knows there is no difference between Asian and white family and work ethic and culture, and black family and work ethic and culture so that couldn't account for the fact that the poorest Asians and whites surpass the wealthiest blacks. These figures and the 75% black illegitimacy rate represent the stellar success of white progressive's promotion of victim culture and rejection of family values.

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    1. Yes indeed, and with the final destruction of the institution of marriage brought about by gay marriage we can expect everyone's test scores to decline. Except for the children of married gay couples, who seem to be the only ones embracing traditional family values. At least on the legitimate-illegitimate children front.

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    2. Gay marriage or adoption does not necessarily affect family values but a gay couple choosing to produce a biological child of one through surrogacy is no different from parents who negligently or deliberately produce illegitimate children. They are deliberately inflicting a deprivation on the child of his own two parents raising him in his household.

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    3. Do you seriously think that all two-parent hetero married couples are good parents? The same things that make such couples good or bad parents make all other kinds of families good or bad for kids, including single moms and dads, grandparents raising grandkids, gay couples and those who adopt. It doesn't matter who the family members are if the needs of the child are being met. It is certainly easier to do that in a stable partnership but there is nothing saying that must be hetero married couples only.

      Until there is a national marriage gestapo enforcing the two-parent parenting laws, we must consider what to do with the kids we have in the families that occur in our society. The person who keeps posting these comments seems to assume that everyone has a choice about whether to be a single parent or not. He or she doesn't acknowledge that a couple may start out married and wind up divorced or single, poor or sick or jobless or homeless, through catastrophe. No doubt he or she feels invulnerable and takes full credit for good fortune, but we help others in our society because life doesn't treat everyone fairly or equally.

      This commenter would no doubt stigmatize a girl who was raped and wound up the mother of an illegitimate child, because she should have carried a precautionary condom or better yet stayed in her house, rather than inflict deprivation on a possible child. In other cultures that girl would be stoned, as she should be for being so irresponsible as to dishonor her family that way.

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    4. Trayvon Martin had a father, But he was too busy courting someone else's baby mama to keep his kid in the house where he belonged.

      When you get down to it the problem is irresponsible males.

      Of any race, I should add. But let the statistic show what they show, painful or not.

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    5. @2:25, I was in a car accident and ejected because I wasn't wearing a seatbelt. I might have survived for it, but the conclusion that wearing seatbelts should not be done because "some" people do as well or better without them is beyond stupid.

      You talk about those who don't choose to end up as single parents but you do know that this does not account for most of the 75% of illegitimacy in the black community, 40% in the white community. In most cases, they choose exactly that. The raped mother does nothing to refute the idea that a standard of two married parents raising the offspring they produce in the same household is not optimal and would not be a factor that, if changed, would create the most significant improvements in every area of society including education gaps and underperformance.

      A rapist should be stigmatized and a rape victim not stigmatize does nothing to disprove the idea the act of producing children out of wedlock or neglecting them in other ways should not be stigmatized. It should. It is not only not stigmatized but promoted as "just as good" or even "better" by progressives, and for the most bizarre and self centered reasons, with underperforming black kids being the least of their concerns.

      It does indeed make a difference who is raising children. People prefer to produce their own offspring. Why? Some gays endeavor to produce offspring of one with someone not in the marriage as the other parent. Why not adopt? To state that there is no difference and that a standard of parents raising their own children is not better for children and society because "some" children born out of wedlock or who experience a parade of dates or stepfathers and mothers or produced by gays and raised in deprivation of one biological parent turn out fine is absurd.

      There never was a gestapo but there was a standard that was socially enforced and even liberals were not reluctant to promote it. Modern progressives are sickened by the idea of family values and work ethic despite what we know about the differences between cultures that promote them and those which abandon them.









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    6. @2:37 Trayvon's Mother kicked him out of the house too after he was suspended for the third time that year and sent to live unsupervised with his father. Trayvon was the victim of two negligent parents.

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    7. Really? I thought he was the victim of a guy with a handgun?

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    8. No doubt he or she feels invulnerable and takes full credit for good fortune

      No one should take credit for good fortune of parents who invested effort and thought into raising them. They should recognize the privilege of having parents who expected something of them and recognize cultural influences and standards caused their parents to regard them as more important than themselves. They benefitted from parents' radical behaviors of enduring difficulties and giving up time, freedoms, sometimes dreams for them. They feel privileged that their parents taught them they should be ashamed if they did not work and allowed government to support their children instead.

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    9. I don't know how painful statistics are, but it's a good thing for you that ignorance isn't painful.

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    10. 3:53, no he attacked a guy with a handgun because he was a victim of negligent parents.

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    11. So was the guy with the handgun a victim of negligent parents when he attacked a police officer and a number of women with whom he was involved.

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    12. @3:44

      You keep repeating that there is an inherent deficit to having one parent instead of two or to having gay or unmarried parents. The studies show that it is the quality of parenting that matters, not who does it. You can hold to your entrenched position no matter what, or you can take existing research into account and accept that we know more about such things today and thus can change our views.

      Yes, there are studies in which children of single parents may have worse outcomes but that is because they are having other concurrent difficulties, not because there is something inherent to being single that makes someone a worse parent. When those things are held constant, singleness does not result in bad parenting. People are single parents for many different reasons, not simply because they choose that. You seem to base your entire view of single parenting on a stereotype of selfishness and are ignoring what is true for real people, as described in numerous studies on this topic.

      You also keep ignoring that the same factors that interfere with good parenting for single people also affect married people and their kids. Being married is not an innoculation against bad parenting.

      Delete
    13. 3:44 said: "Modern progressives are sickened by the idea of family values and work ethic despite what we know about the differences between cultures that promote them and those which abandon them."

      Is it possible to be more clueless than this?

      Delete
  7. Wow. This is an informative and thought-provoking series of comments.

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    1. Seriously. I'm really impressed. This is the the least snarky batch of comments in a long time (and I say that as someone prone to snark, but trying to curb that impulse).

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    2. Well, I am so happy you are impressed.

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    3. You haven't weighed in yourself cacambo. Do you think we can solve the 30 million word gap or have liberals been led astray by jaded leaders who ingore the problem?

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    4. Jaded leaders or jaded journalists like the "heinous" and "cruel" Hannah-Jones, or the "elitist" Amanda Ripley?

      After all, we've been told repeatedly that this blog isn't about policy. It's about journalism.

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    5. I did not ask you, @ 2:29.

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    6. Aren't "journalist" and "leader" synonymous? They seem to be an adjective commonly applied to liberals around here.

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    7. The 30 million word gap doesn't explain the difference but the expectation of parents who invest the 30 million words does. Parental expectation in performance predicts achievement more than any other factor.

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    8. Anon 2:12- These are big questions above my pay grade, so I'll fudge and say that it's probably a little bit of both. I thought Anon 11:53 had some good suggestions.

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    9. Fudging is fine when acknowledged! Thanks for the response. I've been away.

      Delete
  8. Even if it is all we have and the volume of data is ginormous, I am not sure we can trust NAEP.

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    Replies
    1. I am sure you are not one of those cacambo had in mind.

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    2. Well, things were good for a while but now the trolls have managed to disrupt every one of the conversations. Maybe things will be better tomorrow.

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    3. The only one around here interrupting is the person calling people trolls.

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  9. It is too bad we can't assess economic status on something less reliable than FRLP status. It would be helpful to be able to do a straight disposable family income to score comparison.

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  10. This was an interesting post and comment box. It was, other than the statistics Somerby threw out, masterful gobbledygook.

    He is meandering his way to the standard liberal elite postion on public school performace, which can best be described by paraphrasing Donald Rumsfeld:

    You don't go to school with the teachers and students you would like, you go with the students and teachers you have....

    There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That said, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know. We just don't know.

    But we are acting in good faith. Except for lazy liberal elites in academia and the media. This is one known truth. Despite them we are winning the battle in our schools. Nobody reports the good news.

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    Replies
    1. A fine summation of where we have journeyed in the month since Bob first discovered D'Leisha, who couldn't get into college after she had gotten into college.

      We were promised an exposition of the "cruel" and "heinous" Hannah-Jones who claimed that the resegregation of her high school was at the root of her low ACT score.

      We also have been promised some exposition of the "brutal history" that is the true cause -- which apparently has nothing to do with "resegregation."

      Then we have been told in the interim how marvelously black kids are learning in school today, a story that is never told while the "media" continues to demonstrate how little they care about black kids by focusing on the persistent "achievement gap."

      Well, perhaps in another month of daily blogging and howling, all this will become perfectly clear.

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    2. 10:40 so it seems. Your results may dither.

      Delete

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