Part 1—Our final back-to-school questions:
How much better are black kids doing in math?

Admit it! You’ve never seen that question addressed by any major news org!

You’ve never seen that question addressed by the New York Times or the Washington Post. You’ve never seen that question addressed by the millionaire corporate employees who perform as corporate liberal hosts on MSNBC, The One True Liberal Channel.

How much better are black kids doing? Voluminous data exist—but you’ve never seen them reported! For that reason, you’ve never seen any actual experts asked to say what those data might mean.

In our view, you’ve never seen that question addressed for a fairly obvious reason. Within our journalistic elites, no one cares about black kids, except:

(1) To the extent that their deaths can be used to heighten claims to moral greatness made by various public figures; or (2) to the extent that public school data can be used to promote elite establishment narratives about our allegedly failing public schools with their ratty unionized teachers.

When young black people get shot and killed, our liberal leaders swing into action, including our corporate millionaire liberals. They invent, embellish and disappear facts, making the stories more dramatic—easier to tell, easier to exploit for the TV star’s personal gain.

You will never see those people ask how black kids are doing in school. The reason for that seems abundantly clear:

None of those people care!

Just for the record, this is what score gains in math look like over the past twenty years. You’ll see these data nowhere else. Data from the 2015 NAEP aren’t available yet:
Gains in average scores, 1996-2013
Main NAEP, Grade 4 math
National public schools

White students: 18.92 points
Black students: 26.82 points
Hispanic students: 23.68 points
Asian-American students: 28.59 points

Gains in average scores, 1996-2013
Main NAEP, Grade 8 math
National public schools

White students: 13.69 points
Black students: 23.45 points
Hispanic students: 21.84 points
Asian-American students: Insufficient data from 1996;
18.46 points from 2000-2013
Because of changes in the Grade 12 math test, similar comparisons can’t be made at that grade level over that period. Last week, we showed you what Grade 12 score gains look like from 2005 through 2013.

(Over that period, Grade 12 score gains were actually larger than the gains at Grade 4. Before the week is done, we'll show you Grade 12 score gains in math from 1990 through the year 2000.)

Judged by normal measures, the score gains shown above seem to be quite large. From those data, you can also see that the “achievement gaps” in math have been narrowing on the NAEP during that period.

Still and all, those data raise important questions. Basic among them are these:

How much academic improvement is implied by score gains of that size? If significant improvement has occurred, to what can it be attributed?

Is there some way to produce more academic gains of this type? Is there any chance that the NAEP data are misleading or flawed in some way?

Admit it! You’ve never seen such basic questions explored in the Washington Post or the New York Times. And while we’re at it, admit one more thing:

If it weren’t for this site, you would have no earthly idea that those score gains exist at all! All across the mainstream press corps, a basic agreement exists:

These data simply don’t exist! Those score gains can’t or won’t or shouldn’t be reported!

Last week, we looked at the ludicrous way one of our “educational experts” disappeared some score gains on the NAEP. In a discussion of SAT scores, he ended up in a standard, mandated place:

We need more charter schools, he said! We need more “education reform!”

For ourselves, we aren’t opposed to charter schools, or to some of the basic tenets of so-called “reform.” We are opposed to the phony discourse about our schools which gets churned by our “experts,” professors and journalists—a phony discourse which always supports preferred elite nostrums about our failing schools and their heinous public school teachers.

This week, we’ll complete our back-to-school spectacular! We’ll do so by looking at two other questions which arose in the back-to-school pseudo-reporting by the nation’s press corps this year:
Our two additional back-to-school questions:
1) Do black kids get suspended more often in the South than in other parts of the country?
2) What kind of progress has occurred in the New Orleans schools?
In recent weeks, the press corps attempted, pretended or seemed to discuss those important questions. Warning:

Each question involves black kids in our public schools, about whom the press doesn’t care.

Here’s our plan for the week:

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll explore the important question of public school suspensions. On Thursday, we’ll examine claims of progress in the New Orleans schools.

On Friday, we’ll return to this year’s SAT scores, reviewing the way the Associated Press and the New York Times pretended to report this topic in recent weeks. The following question may arise:

When’s the last time the New York Times got something right about schools?

Tomorrow, we’ll return to those professors from Penn and their amazingly bungled new study. Inevitably, we’ll see failed reporting in the Times playing its standard role as the professors’ ridiculous work spreads through much of the press corps.

Professors and experts and journos oh my! Our black kids seem to be doing much better. By way of contrast, our academic and journalistic elites are in a disgraceful state of moral and intellectual decline.

How are black kids doing in school? Manifestly, nobody cares!

Tomorrow: Two professors from Penn, as seen in the New York Times

How to access the data: Our data come from the NAEP Data Explorer, a font of basic information our “journalists” have sworn to ignore.

To access all data, follow these steps:

First, click this. Then, click on MAIN NDE (Main NAEP Data Explorer).

Click on “I agree to the terms above.” From there, you’re on your own!


  1. The NAEP website has pointed out the increases. Presumably the press releases given by NAEP to the media contain the same info. So it appears that journalists, instead of transcribing the information handed to them by NAEP, are interpreting them in ways different than what the testing people themselves say about their data. That is a deviation from their standard procedure, a deliberate change. Journalists have to expend motivated effort to tell a different story than the one NAEP itself provides to the public about its test results.

  2. According to the NAEP report found under their News Release section, and of course using the the very rough rule of thumb, our 4th graders are now doing 7th grade level math work compared to 1990!

    Unless they were doing first grade work in 1990. In which case they have caught up and are doing fourth grade work now. Of course it could be somewhere in between. It is a very rough rule. I guess that is why they only mention the scores, and not the three year gain.

    1. So, I take it you are upset about the rough rule of thumb and don't actually care about the larger point that our media is ignoring the progress our kids have made. You are right -- the NAEP people don't use the rough rule of thumb. They don't interpret the results -- they report them. But what do the increases mean? Is the increase trivial or important. That's all the rough rule of thumb is meant to indicate. You are taking it way more literally than anyone every intended it to be used -- entirely ignoring the word "rough" always accompanying "rule of thumb."

      Such literalness, such narrow focus on triviality, entirely ignoring the main point -- which is that not only have scores increased but the increase has been ignored by the media -- these are the hallmarks of a troll whose sympathies are with those who wish to claim that math scores are flat, not improving, because our schools need reforming in ways that will line pockets of favored reformers.

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  4. Poor Bob. Between the time he started this series and this post, it looks like their is A NEW Test in Town.

    1. "The new tests are based on state learning goals for each grade, called the Common Core; they have been adopted by 42 states. For the first time, the exams were given on computers. Questions become more difficult depending on students' answers. Scoring is designed to be in line with what students would need to be successful in a four-year college, a higher standard than in the past."

      Common core has just barely been implemented in California. It is too soon to know how kids will do, much less minority kids. Educators have been expressing caution about them, but that is ignored in this article. Further, the LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) just lost its superintendent again and has been fraught with upheaval. It would be unsurprising if it were behind in implementing common core -- the content necessary to do well on new tests.

      "The results of the new tests should sound an alarm, if one was needed, said Bill Lucia, of the Sacramento-based advocacy group EdVoice. "

      You have to ask, who is EdVoice? Their webpage says: "EdVoice is a nonprofit grassroots network of over 50,000 parents, community leaders, educators, and the state’s leading education philanthropists, working together to be heard in the decision making process in Sacramento."

      Another millionaire-funded, anti-union, anti-teacher and public school group insisting that we need reform because, as they say, the state of education is dismal. Our state superintendent of education is Tom Torlaksen who is a Democrat, an educator, and has the widespread support of liberals and teachers. We have a Democratic governor in a Blue state. Who do you suppose these reformers are?

      And who is the person who posted this remark? Someone who has the interests of our kids at heart? Or someone who wants to undermine Somerby's credibility because he is a voice against the school reform movement, the tinkering of plutocrats with public education for their own benefits?

      Why should Somerby, who lives in Baltimore, be writing about Common Core testing in California? Does whoever posted this think Hispanic kids are going to be doing worse across the nation? Does he think the problems of one large, chronically underfunded, troubled, largely Hispanic district are going to generalize across the board?

      "L.A. Unified, which enrolls a majority of low-income, minority students, fared much worse overall. Achievement gaps widened less in L.A. Unified than in the state as a whole but that's largely because its white and Asian students declined more, according to the analysis." If the Common Core standards had been in place for a while, the concerns might be valid, but these larger, disorganized districts need more time to start teaching the new content, with which the kids are not going to be able to answer the new test questions. That should be obvious, even to school reform advocates.

  5. If our children are getting smarter and more educated how come we need so much foreign sourced labor?

    1. To paraphrase a question from a great American leader:

      Is our children asking for too much money?

    2. Are employers offering too little money for ridiculous combinations of skills and expectations of a 100+ hour workweek that only foreign workers dependent on a visa are desperate enough to accept?

    3. How come we need so much foreign sourced labor? H1B visas are used as an effective tool to see to it that the proceeds from all productivity gains in science, technology, engineering, and math related work can go to corporate executives and the owners of companies without a share of it going to the specialized workers in those fields.

      In the nineteenth century American capitalists argued their infant industries needed protection from foreign competition. Today's American capitalists argue they need to be protected from the greed of domestic laborers.

  6. OMB (In the Confessional Booth with the OTB)

    "How much better are black kids doing in math?

    Admit it! You’ve never seen that question addressed by any major news org!

    You’ve never seen that question addressed by the New York Times or the Washington Post. .....
    Voluminous data exist—but you’ve never seen them reported!....In our view, you’ve never seen that question addressed for a fairly obvious reason. Within our journalistic elites, no one cares about black kids...."

    BOB Somerby

    From the Washington Post:

    "In addition to narrowing the gap with white students, blacks and Hispanics performed better in 2012 in reading and math when compared with the same racial groups in the 1970s.

    On a scale of zero to 500, 9-year-old black students in 2012 scored an average 36 points higher than their counterparts in the 1970s in reading and math, while 13-year-olds scored an average 24 points higher in reading and 36 points higher in math.

    Meanwhile, 9-year-old Hispanic students scored an average of 25 points higher in reading and 32 points higher in math than Hispanics in the 1970s. And 17-year-old Hispanics scored 21 points higher in reading and 17 points higher in math in 2012, compared with scores from 40 years ago."

    We admit it! We found this article by cheating.

    We searched "Black Student Test Scores - Washington Post" in the search engine of the Daily Howler.

    Thanks to the One True Bob, who wrote a post article about the Washington Post covering higher test scores of black and Hispanic kids, we found what BOB says "can’t or won’t or shouldn’t be reported!"

    Thanks to the OTB, what we were told we've never seen four times today was revealed to us within minutes!

    That said, BOB is right about one thing. Follow the link to his post showing the Washington Post reporting test scores gains of black and Hispanic kids and read the comments of his readers.

    Nobody cared.

    Thanks to the OTB, what we were told can't be seen four times today was revealed to us within minutes! Plus our spouses came back, we gave birth to baby offspring, and a better job is in the offing. All praise BOB!

    1. OMB ( Our Last Confession to the OTB was 40 minutes ago)

      We admit it! ..... we admit one more thing!

      Forgive us oh great and powerful BOB. We said you said we had "never seen" something four times. We left one out! You said we had never seen it FIVE times!!

      We apologize and beg for mercy for counting like a blogger numbers posts in a series. Here is the fifth, and given its modesty, we only hope we can be worthy of your mercy.

      "Admit it! You’ve never seen such basic questions explored in the Washington Post or the New York Times. And while we’re at it, admit one more thing:

      If it weren’t for this site, you would have no earthly idea that those score gains exist at all!"

      The OTB

      (In our view, 5 times makes the miracle even bigger! So act know if you are having trouble with cheating spouses, basic human reproduction, or the always pesky employment problem.)

      BOB. You'll have no Earthly Ideas without him.

      Admit it!

    2. One example certainly contradicts the statement NEVER, but how many times has our media pointed out that scores have increased, compared to the number of articles about how poor our schools are and how badly our kids are doing?

      It is understandable that you would take hyperbole literally. You are KZ, after all. But Somerby's point is not contradicted by a single example, no matter where or how you found it.

      It never rains in Southern California... the song lyric says, but does the one time it pours really contradict that statement? Only to someone as obsessively concerned with the game of gotcha as KZ, someone who either cannot or doesn't want to think and use words the way other people do -- probabilistically not in deductive absolutes.

      Give it a break, KZ.

    3. How does an article reporting scores address the additional questions Somerby raised? Did he say he had never seen the scores reported or was he talking about a broader discussion of whether our kids are being well taught in our public schools?

    4. You are right @ 3:26. The article from 2013 does not address the additional questions BOB raised in 2015. As the post went on he made the questions harder.

      Therefore we should not have begged the OTB's forgiveness for missing the fifth "never seen."

      BTW IOHO there was a sixth "never" but it was applied to the future "see" and seemed to be aimed only at the millionaire club over at the One Liberal Channel.

    5. Doesn't it bother you to be so obsessively focused on the trivial and always missing the bigger picture?

    6. By the bigger picture, do you mean that nobody cares?