Your Lying Eyes

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27 March 2010

SAT Gap Widens While 8th Grade Gap Shrinks

NAEP math test scores have shown a persistent narrowing of the racial gap in scores, from over 1.2 standard deviations to just under 1. The SAT math score gap has widened over that time. The verbal SAT gap has been jumpier, but also has widened while the NAEP reading score gap has shrunk as well. One obvious difference is that the NAEP takes entire school districts while the SAT is taken only be students who have at least an inkling of attending college (in those states that traditionally take the SAT vs. the ACT). Here are the SAT Math and Verbal racial gaps since 1996 (the earliest reporting date the College Board provides):


It's a modest increase, but clearly an upward trend. How does this compare to the NAEP results? I forward shifted the NAEP dates 3 years, assuming that 8th graders tested in 2003 were taking their SAT's in 2006, for example. My purpose is to align them so that the SAT takers are coming from mostly the same population as the 8th grade NAEP test takers - not sure if 3 years is better or 4, but I chose 3. Here's how it looks:


There are so many confounding variable in all this I hesitate to argue we can draw any conclusions from any of it. But I think we can comfortably conclude that arguments that heavy investment in early-to-middle minority education will pay off in a better prepared group for college don't hold water. Whatever's being done in the grade schools to reduce the gap is getting lost in high school. But let's remember - while the narrowing in the gap for 8th graders has been relatively substantial (about 17%), it's a long, long way from parity, and is still in the 1 standard deviation range. (As a point of reference, the 1 standard deviation black/white gap means that the scores for the 15th percentile white students are equal to those for the 50th percentile black students.) These SAT trends should temper any optimism quite a bit.

The data is here.

For the SAT data, I went through each archived report from 1996 on and typed in the numbers off the PDF files. Yeah lots of fun - I'm quite the wild and crazy weekend partier.

3 Comments:

Anonymous cialis online said...

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May 16, 2011 12:32 PM  
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January 18, 2017 7:15 AM  

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