Large gains in Chicago's Grade 4 too!

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2017

Despite what the New York Times said:
Dating back, let's say, to 2005, Chicago's public school students seem to have shown substantial progress in Grade 8 math.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress—the Naep—is routinely described as "the gold standard" of domestic educational testing. As we noted on Monday, the average scores recorded by Chicago's black kids have grown, a lot, in Grade 8 math, in the past dozen years:
Average scores, black students, Chicago
Grade 8 math, Naep

2005: 244.83
2007: 248.22
2009: 252.48
2011: 260.03
2013: 259.12
2015: 262.09
By a very roughly rule of thumb, 10-11 points on the Naep scale is often said to correspond to one academic year. On that basis, those average scores seem to represent a lot of progress.

Chicago's Hispanic kids have shown large score gains too—and they were starting from a higher point:
Average scores, Hispanic students, Chicago
Grade 8 math, Naep

2005: 262.55
2007: 264.52
2009: 268.46
2011: 271.48
2013: 270.18
2015: 275.31
Those score gains are impressive too.

(Again, we offer a chastening larger perspective. Across the nation, white kids averaged 291.06 on this test. Asian-American kids averaged 305.37.)

Chicago's average scores exceed those of most other big-city systems. The same is true of the city's score gains since 2005.

Now we offer a significant point. Chicago has recorded large scores gains at the Grade 4 level too.

The Naep tests reading and math in Grades 4 and Grade 8. In Grade 4 math, average scores by Chicago's black kids have looked like this:
Average scores, black students, Chicago
Grade 4 math, Naep

2005: 207.71
2007: 212.80
2009: 211.78
2011: 216.67
2013: 220.81
2015: 221.17
Here again, we're looking at substantial score gains. And for the city's Hispanic fourth graders, average score in Grade 4 math have gone from 217.05 in 2005 to 229.69 in 2015.

In short, Chicago has recorded large score gains at the Grade 4 level too. In light of this recent report by the New York Times, there's an interesting aspect to this.

The Times report seems to attribute a surprising theory to Stanford's Sean Reardon. According to this theory, city kids tend to be substantially behind national norms at the end of third grade mainly because of factors in the home and the community. Positive effects of a skillful school system start to kick in after that.

Stated in its baldest form, this theory seems counterintuitive. Needless to say, that doesn't mean that it's wrong.

That said, these data from Chicago seem to fly in the face of this theory. Why do we say that? Here's why:

The Naep produces no Grade 3 scores. Its earliest testing occurs in Grade 4.

But in Chicago, Grade 4 scores have tended to rise in conjunction with Grade 8 scores. Presumably, social surroundings in Chicago didn't improve a lot from 2005 to 2015—a period in which that city's rising homicide numbers drew lots of national attention, with activists loudly complaining about the closing of neighborhood schools.

That said, scores by the city's fourth graders rose by substantial amounts during this period, hand in hand with the large score gains recorded by Chicago's eighth graders. If the school district's influence only starts kicking in after third grade, that influence seems to have kicked in heavily in Chicago during just that one fourth grade year.

We found a great deal to wonder about in that New York Times report. Early in the new year, we expect to examine several aspects of the report.

As usual, we came away from that report with a few basic reactions. In our view, the New York Times makes little investment in its education reporting.

In our view, Times reporting about urban schools has a largely Potemkin feel. Truth to tell, the Times doesn't seem to care a whole lot about the delightful, deserving, striving kids in Chicago's public schools.

Meanwhile, have you seen that full-page New York Times report discussed on your favorite "cable news" channel? Has Rachel Maddow discussed that report? How about Chris, Chris and Lawrence, or does he just care about desks?

Has that major report been discussed? Has Professor Reardon been interviewed?

We're going to say that the answer is no. So why do you think that is?

Tomorrow: Perhaps a major surprise

9 comments:

  1. In Chicago, the mayor's critics have criticized him for closing some schools (they don`t explain why schools that are half empty should remain open) charging that this detremental to the kids education. The data seem to belie that notion. Of course the same people never discuss how raising kids in a single family household isn't detremental to education.

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  2. Hey Bob. Two things:
    1. you really need to stop being lib-racialist, categorizing children (and people in general) as 'black', 'hispanic', etc. This is unbecoming. If you must categorize them, categorize them by family income/status or something. And
    2. Since you're so worried about Chicago students, check out the lead levels in their water. Especially in East Chicago.

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    Replies
    1. What about the ethnic Russians in the Ukraine? Should we categorize them?

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  3. Why would anyone discuss that bullcrap? Who cares? I don't.

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  4. "city kids tend to be substantially behind national norms at the end of third grade mainly because of factors in the home and the community"
    The main question here is: is it true that city kids are behind the national norm at the end of third grade, or are they not? The fact that Chicago's scores rose for both 4th and 8th grade does not disprove this supposed theory.

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    ReplyDelete
  6. State test scores, too, have been improving. In fact, a recent analysis by Stanford University's Sean Reardon, shows that if you look at those state scores, Chicago “grows” its kids the most of any large or moderately sized district. So the conclusion is to visit Al Tayer Careers and submit your job application there for the future of your students.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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