When will the public be told: Saturday morning, a breakthrough occurred.
As we noted yesterday, it became clear that the Washington Post actually knows a certain fact about the nation’s black kids:
The Washington Post knows that black kids have made significant gains in their NAEP math scores.
We were never entirely sure that the Post knew that. Below, you see the somewhat begrudging way Lyndsey Layton reported the gains:
LAYTON (4/11/15): Haycock credits annual testing and No Child Left Behind with a modest rise in math scores among black and Hispanic students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test administered by the federal government across the country every two years.According to that account, black and Hispanic kids have made “modest” gains in math in roughly the past dozen years. They made “even greater gains on the NAEP” in the years before that.
“The suggestion that No Child Left Behind destroyed American education is absolutely not borne out,” Haycock said at a gathering of the country’s top state education officials two weeks ago.
But black and Hispanic students made even greater gains on the NAEP before No Child Left Behind took effect.
Based on that account, it almost sounds like black and Hispanic kids have made fairly substantial gains in math in the past several decades! Most people would be surprised to hear that. You’d almost think a newspaper like the Post would want to do a full report about this important matter.
If you thought that, you’d almost surely be wrong. The Washington Post and the New York Times seem dedicated to withholding this encouraging news from the public.
We all can guess at the motive for their relentless silence. But the silence is a well-established fact.
In Layton’s case, she offered that passage midway through a longer report. She seems to have done so as a way to suggest that No Child Left Behind hasn’t been much of a success.
She didn’t make any attempt to describe the size of the overall gains achieved down through the years. Beyond that, it seems to us that she may have misstated the pattern of these gains.
Below, you see black kids’ scores in Grade 8 math from 1990 through 2013. For slightly obscure methodological reasons, a clean statistical comparison can be made between 1990 and 2000. A second clean comparison can be drawn for all years from 2000 through 2013.
Here you see the basic pattern of these score gains:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, NAEPIn the ten years from 1990 to 2000, the score gain was 8.76 points. These years completely predate No Child Left Behind.
Black students, 2000 through 2013 (new methodology)
Average scores, Grade 8 math, NAEP
Black students, 1990 through 2000 (old methodology)
In the ten years from 2003 through 2013, the score gain was 10.98 points. No Child Left Behind was signed into law in January 2002.
Comparing those ten-year periods, the score gain after NCLB was somewhat larger. The difference isn’t super-impressive, but we don’t see why Layton described the gains as she did.
A similar pattern obtains with the score gains recorded by Hispanic kids, except a little bit more so:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, NAEPFor Hispanic kids, the score gains were substantially larger in the more recent ten-year period.
Hispanic students, 2000 through 2013 (new methodology)
Average scores, Grade 8 math, NAEP
Hispanic students, 1990 through 2000 (old methodology)
We don’t know why Layton seemed to say that gains were larger in the years before No Child Left Behind. This leads to a more important question:
How large a gain in math achievement might these score gains indicate?
That’s an important question! It’s an act of journalistic fraud that newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times have long refused to report these gains, and have failed to investigate that important question.
How large a gain in math achievement might those score gains indicate? As we’ve long told you, by a very rough rule of thumb, ten points on the NAEP scale is often compared to one academic year.
Our big newspapers often use that rule of thumb in reporting the size of the gaps between the scores of white kids and black kids. We don’t think we’ve ever seen them report the size of the gains, let alone apply the ten-point rule of thumb.
Shall we add? Black kids gained almost thirty points in Grade 8 math from 1990 through 2013. They gained 8.76 points between 1990 and 2000, plus 19.46 points between 2000 and 2013.
Using that very rough rule of thumb, that would represent almost three years of math achievement.
We doubt that kids have actually gained that much. That said, it’s an act of journalistic fraud that the Washington Post and the New York Times won’t report the size of those score gains or evaluate their academic meaning.
Those are the actual scores recorded on the NAEP, the widely-praised “gold standard” of educational testing. As of last Saturday, a basic fact has been established—the Washington Post is aware that score gains have occurred.
The Post knows score gains have occurred! We regard it as an act of fraud that the paper won’t perform high-profile, front-page reporting about this important fact.
To all appearances, the Washington Post and the New York Times don’t want to discuss this apparent good news. They don’t seem to want you to hear the good news about our students and their public school teachers.
You really have to despise black kids to keep such news from the public. But then, all around our “liberal” world, our big stars quite plainly don’t care.
To access the NAEP Data Explorer: To access the NAEP Data Explorer, click here, then click on MAIN NDE.
After that, you’re on your own. But all the data are sitting right there, just as they always have been.
Our big newspapers refuse to report these score gains. They seem devoted to a corporate/conservative script:
Absolutely nothing has worked! It's all because of our ratty teachers, with their infernal unions!
Might we add one final point? Almost everything you read in big newspapers seems to be written to script!