Grade 8 scores from the Naep: Yesterday, we commented on a New York Times report about the Texas public schools.
We thought the Times report was weak, as the paper's reports on public schools almost always are. This morning, we decided to take a look at the most recent Naep scores from the Lone Star State.
The federally-administered National Assessment of Educational Progress (Naep) has long been considered our most reliable domestic testing program. The most recent Naep data are drawn from the 2017 testing.
Here are average scores from Texas in Grade 8 math, compared to average scores from the United States as a whole. Texas kids came out pretty well:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, 2017 NaepIn Grade 8 math, Texas kids tended to outperform their peers nationwide. Based on a standard though very rough rule of thumb, a five-point advantage on the Naep is said to be roughly equal to half an academic year.
United States: 259.60
United States: 292.16
United States: 268.49
United States: 309.52
In Grade 8 reading, Texas students in the four major groups didn't do quite as well. They tended to score right around the national average, though Asian-American students outperformed their peers nationwide by about half a year.
Tuesday's report in the Times may have given the impression that those lunkheads down in the Lone Star State have been screwing things up again. The Times may have a slight tendency to err in that direction when discussing the Texas public schools, dating back to Gail Collins' strange performance in connection with her 2012 book, As Texas Goes.
You'll note the large "achievement gaps" between the different groups of kids, in Texas and in the nation as a whole. The Times devotes essentially no attention to this punishing matter. Instead, it focuses on the largely imaginary task of "desegregating" the New York City Public Schools.
At any rate, Texas kids have long tended to outperform their peers nationwide, though things may have slid a bit in recent years. There was a time when we would have presented the data on that, but we've finally learned that basic information plays no role, none at all, in our public discourse.
For all Naep data, start here. Warning! Within our journalistic culture, assembling information tends to be viewed as a subversive act.