Your Lying Eyes

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01 November 2011

The Gap Continues to Shrink

The 2011 NAEP results have just been released. Last year I provided some graphs on a declining trend in the Black/White gap in grade school scores. It appears that this trend is continuing - and not starting to flatten out. Here are the Math gaps:
This represents a very small narrowing that if continued at the pace of the last 6 years would not eliminate the gap within the lifetimes of anyone reading this now. Reading results are also narrowing at a similarly slow pace:
Now as to whether these very meager victories in the war against The Gap are worth the billions of dollars and public resources that have been mobilized to fight it - that's another question entirely. But it would be really depressing if the gap were actually widening. Another depressing thought is whether the kind of widespread cheating we have seen in Atlanta and New York City could be behind this improvement as well.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the SD calculated from the entire sample or just blacks and whites?

November 02, 2011 11:40 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

It's the white s.d. - so y-axis is (w_score - b_score) / w_sd.

November 02, 2011 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay. I wonder if the narrowing is across-the-board or due to black gains at the bottom of the distribution. Hedges and Nowell concluded that the narrowing of the gap from the 1960s to the 1990s was due to gains at the bottom, with few or no gains among top scorers.

November 02, 2011 5:33 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

that sure seems plausible. While these urban schools are far from what the white middle class would consider minimally acceptable, my impression is that they'be been getting a lot better at the basic tasks.

November 02, 2011 5:45 PM  
Blogger europeasant said...

The NAEP test subjects are selected by the teacher.
The Illinois PSAE test every student in the state is required to take the test. According to the PSAE test the GAP is widening.

November 17, 2011 3:29 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

NAEP test takers are chosen by the teacher? Boy that's sure disheartening news - I thought the NAEP was the "gold standard" for grade school testing, such as it is.

Is this fact published anywhere? I'd like to think you're mistaken.

November 19, 2011 5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's been a lot more pressure on the teachers/principals/school districts since the late 90s. I work in a low performing district, and all the efforts are centered on passing the darn test. The kids get drilled on similar questions, in similar conditions over and over and over again. Then, when the test is a couple of months away, everything goes into hyper-drive. The children are separated into 3 groups: those who'll pass the stupid test, those who might or might not get an adequate score, and those who are lost causes. The first and the third group are given busy work and swept under the rug, while the middle group does nothing but test drills. At that time, gym, music, art and foreign language classes become math/reading drill classes as well. The principal calls it "Maximizing results and cutting losses". Of course, if these methods fail, the test booklets take a little detour on their way back to the district office. We administer tests to our own students, usually in our own classrooms, btw. There is always fear that someone might show up to check up on us during the test week, but it hasn't happened in my short career. Oh, and it's possible to label kids as special ed, so they'd take a much easier test that might or might not count towards the average. I have a bunch of completely normal students who get to take the much easier test, have it read to them and get a lot more time. (Since all the "special" ones take the test together, we go at the pace of the little girl who actually does have something wrong with her-FAS.)

So... I don't think the gap is disappearing. Creative strategies are appearing, more like.

December 02, 2011 4:18 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Thanks for your input. My daughter student-taught in an inner-city school. She wasn't involved in any high-stakes standardized tests, but it seems that for even a classroom test, they would just teach them the entire test ahead of time, and then give them test - the results still being just beyond belief, with only a handful of kids getting it.

An example of a real stumper was "What country do you live in?"

December 04, 2011 10:26 AM  
Blogger Rev. Right said...

Those are grades, not scores on standardized tests.

Closing the achievement gap has been the primary goal of American public eduction for decades now.

Grades are at least partially at the discretion of teachers who are under huge pressure to get that gap closed.

If D'Shawn gets bumped up a little to a B-, and Josh gets bumped down to a B+, who's to know? The principal is happy and the performance appraisal goes well.

Progress will be made, one way or the other.

December 13, 2011 12:38 AM  

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