One lone pilgrim responds: In response to last week's award-winning "Gaps in Chicago" report, Kevin Drum took a look at Naep scores from some big urban systems. To review his post, click here.
Drum is the only person who ever considers such matters. That said, he seems to have made a pair of possible technical semi-errors in his post. Since we all want to know how to use Naep data, these apparent possible semi-errors are probably worth reviewing.
Nationwide, the black/white gap is actually smaller: Looking at five major cities, Drum compared Naep results from 2003 to those from 2017. As he ended his post, he stated this gloomy conclusion:
DRUM (6/1/18) This is just a snapshot of five cities, but...the story is roughly the same if you look at average scores for all big cities that NAEP tests: there’s been broad progress, but white kids have improved more than black kids. The black-white achievement gap has widened by about two points nationwide since 2003. We still have a disturbingly long way to go if we ever intend to give black kids a fair start in life."The black-white achievement gap has widened by about two points nationwide?" That may be true for kids who live in big cities, however "big cities" may be defined. But it isn't true for black and white kids nationwide.
If we look at all kids nationwide, the black-white gap in Grade 8 math has narrowed by 2.23 points over that 15-year span. (The Hispanic-white achieved gap has narrowed by almost five points.)
That isn't a gigantic narrowing, but most kids don't live in big cities. Among all kids across the land, the gaps are somewhat smaller in Grade 8 math than they were in 2003.
Test scores from DC: Drum showed data from five major cities—Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington DC and Los Angeles. This introduces a basic problem concerning Naep scores from DC.
Drum used scores from the system called DCPS—but DCPS is only part of the larger DC public school system. The Naep deals with this in a clumsy, confusing way. Here's the way it rolls:
Washington's public schools are roughly half "public charter," half "traditional public." Confusingly, the schools which bear the name "DCPS" are only the latter half of that pie.
If you want to consider all of Washington's public schools, you can't limit yourself to DCPS, which is, for whatever reason, the lower-scoring half of the overall system. Indeed, here are the relevant scores from last year, both for the whole of Washington's public schools and for DCPS alone:
Average scores Grade 8 math, Naep, 2017The top scores include results from the DC public school charters and from DCPS. The giant black/white gaps reflect the fact that DC's schools enroll a relatively small number of white students, whose families tend to be high income and extremely high SES.
Washington DC, white students: 322.69
Washington DC, black students: 256.99
DCPS, white students 317.59
DCPS, black students: 249.62
Alas! On the Naep Data Explorer, you have to look under "States" to get the data for the whole of the DC public schools, even though DC famously isn't a state. The Naep handles this in a confusing way. We'll have to admit, it has sometimes made us wonder what else they might be handling poorly.
Scores have begun to decline: Drum looked at scores from 2003 through 2017. Sadly, he could have painted a brighter picture had he stopped at 2013.
That's right! After decades of gains, Naep scores have actually dropped somewhat in the last two testings. Here are tsome gloomy facts concerning Grade 8 math:
Changes in average scores nationwideThose are fairly small score drops, but they reverse decades of steady growth. As you can see, black and Hispanic kids lost a bit more ground than their white counterparts. That leads us to this point:
Grade 8 math, Naep, 2013-2017
White students: -1.03 points
Black students: -3.13 points
Hispanic students: -2.53 points
From 2003 through 2013, the black/white gap had been reduced by 4.33 points. But since that time, the black/white gap has widened a bit. These are all fairly minor changes, but the direction is bad.
We have a speculation as to what may have happened since 2013. It involves deliberately scaring the sh*t out of American children, especially "minority" kids, in service to the moral imperatives of us liberal adults.
That said, our idea would be a mere speculation. The numbers are at the Naep Data Explorer for all journalists to ignore.
Luckily, nobody cares: A final note about the total disinterest on display at the New York Times:
Everyone agrees that the Naep is our most significant educational testing program. It's the widely-lauded "gold standard!" Tests are administered every two years.
The 2017 results were released on April 10 of this year. As best we can tell from a Nexis search, the Times still hasn't published a single word about these latest results.
These "gold standard" results appear once every two years. The New York Times can't be bothered to report, analyze, ask further questions of the "experts" or even pretend to care.
Lawrence hasn't discussed this either. Like Trump, he never will.