At long last, has the Times no shame? "Today we have naming of parts."
So wrote British journalist and poet Henry Reed in a rueful, ironic war poem. Long ago and far away, as we prepared to march on Iraq, Roger Rosenblatt discussed the poem on the PBS Newshour.
His presentation started like this:
ROSENBLATT (7/29/02): By now one ought to be used to the collision of basic human impulses. Familiar business, especially today, when summer is in full swing all over, and people are going to war all over, all over.In Reed's poem, Reed and his fellow soldiers are subjected to "naming of parts." Today, we ourselves, for the ten millionth time, will have naming of test score gains!
Summer explodes, a bus explodes; grill the suspect, grill the suspect. In the middle of the season of hang gliding, helicopters patrol; and again we take in the harsh attachment of destruction and celebration–the usual, old hat. We've been through it lots before.
This too is part of an ugly and stupid war. We refer to the war the New York Times runs against the interests of the nation's black and Hispanic children, though always in the most high-minded, lofty way.
The silly, daft, upper-class Times builds its public school reporting around a couple of pretty tales—stories it very much likes. One such story goes like this:
The nation's (giant) achievement gaps are all just a function of test prep.You'd almost think that nothing could be any dumber than that. But last Sunday, the paper returned to another beloved tale:
Black kids gained ground under desegregation. It's been downhill from there.At long last, has the Times no shame? At long last, is there nothing that will make its employees stop reciting the pretty stories which make Times readers feel high-minded and good?
We ask this question because, today, we have naming of test score gains!
We've conducted this naming many times in the past. That said, you aren't allowed to know about such gains if you read the New York Times. Nikole Hannah-Jones kept this destructive nonsense alive with her lengthy report this past Sunday. The interests of black kids get thrown down the drain as the Times pursues pleasures like these.
Hannah-Jones seemed to tell a certain story about black kids' progress in school. For the last time, we'll once again post her nugget presentation.
After that, we'll run through the endless, encouraging test score data which are never allowed to bark. In place of such data, you are handed performative portraits like this:
HANNAH-JONES (7/14/19): For years, North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, where the community decided to make busing work, were some of the most integrated in the country, and both black and white students saw achievement gains. The district was forced to return to neighborhood schools after a white family brought down the desegregation order, and Charlotte is now the most segregated district in North Carolina. We should question why in the narrative of busing we remember Boston but not Charlotte.In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS),"both black and white students saw achievement gains" during the era of desegregation. At one point, Hannah-Jones says this era reached its peak in 1988.
We now know that school desegregation significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children—cutting it in half for some black age groups without harming white children. No other reform has reduced the gap on this scale. Rather, the opposite is true: The test-score gap between black and white students reached its narrowest point ever at the peak of desegregation and has widened as schools have resegregated.
During the current era of "resegregation," CMS has become "the most segregated district in North Carolina," Hannah-Jones says. She doesn't say anything about academic progress in Charlotte-Mecklenburg during this era, but she paints a gloomy picture of progress nationwide.
According to Hannah-Jones, desegregation "significantly reduced the test-score gap between black and white children." Unfortunately, the achievement gap has widened in the era of resegregation, she says.
With these claims in mind, today we have naming of test score gains! We're going to run through those test score gains because the picture painted by Hannah-Jones is highly selective at best and may perhaps even be wrong.
Before we have naming of test score gains, we'll need to have naming of National Assessment of Educational Progress (Naep) programs.
Hannah-Jones links to the Naep at several junctures, though in one case her link is a phantom. Before we have naming of gains, we may need naming of programs:
The Long Term Trend Assessment:Now that we've had naming of programs, let's proceed with naming of gains. Our basic point is simple:
This, the Naep's original program, started in 1971. It tests 9-year-old, 13-year-old and 17-year-old students in reading and math. Its most recent data come from 2012.
As part of the passage posted above, Hannah-Jones links to this Long Term Trend Assessment report to support her claim about CMS schools during the era of busing. Tgat said, there is nothing in that lengthy report about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. Simply put, the Naep can't tell us about the system's black and white kids during that bygone era.
The Main Naep:
The so-called Main Naep is, in effect, a companion to the Long Term Trend Assessment. In its main component, it tests students in grades 4, 8 and 12 in reading and math.
The Main Naep started in 1990; its most recent published data date from 2017. It produces scores for the kids of every state, and for several dozen urban systems, along with scores for the nation as a whole.
In effect, the Main Naep provides a type of second opinion when combined with results from the Long Term Trend Assessment. As the program's name implies, the Main Naep is now the more commonly cited of the two Naep studies.
The Trial Urban District Assessment:
The Trial Urban District Assessment is a subset of the Main Naep. Within this program, several dozen urban systems participate in such a way that reliable test scores are produced for each system's kids.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg joined the TUDA in 2003. There are no Naep data for CMS in the earlier years which Hannah-Jones describes.
All groups of kids have produced large score gains during the era of "resegregation!" In various areas, achievement gaps have been reduced during this era, but nowhere have gaps gotten larger. These facts fly in the face of the gloomy picture people like Hannah-Jones simply refuse to quit.
Since Hannah-Jones linked to the Long Term Trend Assessment report, let's review that program first. We'll start with the year 1992, thereby creating a 20-year time span during the era of "resegregation."
Despite the picture Hannah-Jones fashions, score gains have been very large during "resegregation." We calculate these gains directly from the graphs in the 2012 report to which the gloomy Hannah-Jones linked:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend AssessmentThose were enormous score gains over a 20-year period. Beyond that, you'll note that the black/white and Hispanic/white achievement gaps shrank during this period.
9-year-old students, reading, 1992-2012
White kids: 13 points
Black kids: 24 points
Hispanic kids: 22 points
Based on a standard but very rough rule of thumb, black kids progressed by something like two academic years during this period. White kids progressed by just one!
We can't vouch for the "accuracy" of such assessments. But this is the study to which Hannah-Jones linked, and those are the data which have emerged during "resegregation."
Elsewhere, large gains were recorded by all groups, leaving the size of the achievement gap unchanged. Here we see the gains in 9-year-old math:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend AssessmentThose are huge gains for all three groups. But alas! Because white kids did much better too, the gaps were only slightly reduced.
9-year-old students, math, 1992-2012
White kids: 19 points
Black kids: 21 points
Hispanic kids: 23 points
Again, these large score gains were recorded during "resegregation." Nothing in Hannah-Jones' gloomy dreamscape would prepare a reader to imagine any such state of affairs.
Those were results for 9-year-old students through 2012. The 13-year-old kids produced some large gains too. Here are the score gains in math:
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend AssessmentAs with any data which result from sampling, the numbers jump around a bit depending on the year you cherry-pick as your starting point. If we started with 1996, those gains would look like this:
13-year-old students, math, 1992-2012
White kids: 15 points
Black kids: 19 points
Hispanic kids: 13 points
Gains in average scores, Long Term Trend AssessmentBlack kids gained seventeen points in sixteen years on the Long Term Assessment. This occurred during "resegregation," Hannah-Jones' tears to the side.
13-year-old students, math, 1996-2012
White kids: 13 points
Black kids: 17 points
Hispanic kids: 16 points
We've shown you data from the Long Term Trend Assessment. Data from the so-called "Main Naep" tell a similar story, though the data now extend through the year 2017.
We'll stick with data from grade 8, and we'll begin where the program began. Ignoring a minor statistical blip along the way, current score gains in math look like this:
Gains in average scores, Main NaepFor all Main Naep data, start here.
Grade 8 math, 1990-2017
White kids: 23.48 points
Black kids: 23.09 points
Hispanic kids: 23.83 points
On their face, those are very large gains. Those gains were achieved, by all three groups, during "resegregation."
Alas! Because all three groups scored so much higher, the gaps didn't shrink on this measure. If we accept those test scores at face value, the achievement gaps remained the same, though at a much higher academic level.
In grade 8 reading, the gaps did shrink. Starting with the initial testing, the score gains look like this:
Gains in average scores, Main NaepAs a general matter, score gains have been smaller in reading. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, score gains in grade 8 math were very large from 2003 to 2017, but score gains in grade 8 reading were rather small.
Grade 8 reading, 1992-2017
White kids: 8.77 points
Black kids: 12.42 points
Hispanic kids: 16.23 points
Now we're going to have naming of a few basic points:
We've adjusted for a minor statistical blip in our calculation of the gains in the Long Term Trend Assessment. (On the graphics, you can see the blip occur in 2004.) We haven't done this with the Main Naep. The changes would be minor.
We don't review Grade 12 students or 17-year-old students. Changes in nationwide drop-out rates make year-to-year and decade-to-decade comparisons basically meaningless among these older groups.
The Naep may share our view on this. It doesn't even include Grade 12 in its voluminous Naep Data Explorer, a phenomenal research tool which, as far as we can tell, has never been used by any journalist down through the annals of time.
There of course is a reason for that. As you know, our mainstream journalists rarely traffic in information, data or facts. They traffic in preferred story lines, in the fictions their weak minds prefer.
At any rate, today we've had naming of test score gains! All these gains have occurred during the era of "resegregation." In many areas, gaps have shrunk. During these roughly 25 years, gaps haven't gotten larger.
You'd almost think that score gains like these would be seen as major news. Indeed, you'd almost think that score gains like these would be seen as major good news.
You'd almost think that journalists would want to tell the public about these score gains. But if you thought that, you don't understand the way our "press corps" works.
Also, you may not understand the basic workings of the human brain.
Our journalists love to tell us their stories, their favorite fictional tales. At the Times, Eliza Shapiro jumps over the moon pretending that Gotham's giant achievement gaps are just a result of test prep.
Hannah-Jones likes to suggest that we can only produce academic gains in schools which have been "integrated" on a mid-60s, Leave It To Beaver demographic model.
For many years, no one could report test score gains because elites were in thrall to the "education reform" preferred tale, according to which "nothing has worked." These are the novels which determine which facts you're allowed to encounter.
Back to Hannah-Jones. Is it true that progress can only occur in the world of Leave It To Beaver?
We'd better hope that's not true! Given the basic facts of our nation's residential sorting, big urban systems like New York City's will never be "integrated" in the wonderfully pretty, childish way the New York Times likes to imagine.
The gains we've shown you have occurred during the era the Times likes to call "resegregation." At the Times, they weep and cry and hide these score gains. In the process, they throw black kids under the bus as they relish their sick tribal tales.
Down in Charlotte-Mecklenburg's schools, lower-income black eighth graders seem to have made a lot of progress in math. Let's revisit the picture we showed you in Wednesday's report:
Gains in average scores, Main NaepTheir peers across their state have lost ground as North Carolina has staged a conservative retrenchment. But as this was happening, lower-income black kids in CMS were gaining more than a year!
Lower-income black kids, grade 8 math, 2003-2017
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools: 11.21 points
Public schools nationwide: 8.44 points
Public schools statewide, North Carolina: -1.26 points
You'd think a person might want to know why that seems to have happened. But at the Times, score gains like those will always be disappeared. Black kids get thrown under the bus in the process, but our "journalists" retain their prize tales.
Full disclosure! Anthropologists keep telling us that this was the best our species could actually hope to do.
"The human brain was wired for gossip and fiction," these future experts have repeatedly said. Sadly speaking in the past tense from the years which follow Mister Trump's War, they sadly say that Professor Harari basically got it right.
Test scores have gone up and up. The public has never been told!