Your Lying Eyes

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14 July 2005

National Education Scores - Same Old Story

The latest NAEP round of tests showed sharp gains among 9 year old minority students, modest gains among 13 year olds, and no gains among 17 year olds. The NAEP administers the same test each year and, with the greater emphasis on testing, schools can teach students how to take the test pretty effectively. This is obvious in the very dramatic increase in the scores of 9 year old black students.
Most standardized tests function effectively as IQ tests, and so we should expect the group-level results of these teststo follow the pattern found with IQ tests: blacks score 1+ standard deviation below whites, with Hispanics in between but closer to the black scores. The NAEP doesn't make it easy to figure this since they don't provide standard deviations with their scores, but you can figure it out from the percentile achievement ranks. And indeed the pattern holds - with two exceptions - the 2004 scores for 9 year olds, where the white/black gap drops to about 3/4 of a standard deviation. This might mean good news on down the road, but likely not. It's long been known that the racial gap in IQ scores at early ages can be closed somewhat with intensive training, which is what we've seen in the public schools of late particularly targeting testing. But as adulthood approaches, the gap returns to its stable 1+ standard deviation level. And I have little doubt that's what we'll see happen here.


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