More on Gaps – This Time, 8th Grade Math NAEP TUDA

This year, the 8th grade math NAEP TUDA results are the only place where the scores in DCPS appear to be going up, but the gap between the top students and bottom students is getting significantly larger.

(Wait until we look at the reading results…)

If you need a little background information, take a look at yesterday’s post for a bit of explanation of what the percentiles mean.

I begin with a graph and table of the gaps in 8th grade math for all US public school students from 2003 to 2011.

As you can see, these scores, which are for all US 8th grade students in public schools, have been slowly but steadily rising since 2003. The gaps between the highest-achieving and lowest-achieving students have been fairly steady or else getting a bit smaller, if you look at the gap between those at the 75th percentile and those at the 25th percentile.

Now let’s look at a similar graph for students in large cities:

While these scores are also rising, I notice one thing that’s different from the previous graph: the kids at the 10th percentile in US large cities score extremely low. That’s the dark blue line at the bottom of the graph, separated from the other lines by a much larger gap than any I’ve noticed before. This phenomenon also shows up because the “90-10 gap” is much larger in this graph than in the previous one.

Now let’s look at the graph and table for Washington DC public schools. Recall that charter school students are excluded from this data starting in 2009.

Quite a different-looking graph, don’t you think? It’s almost like it’s beginning to open up to the right like a fan, because the top teal-colored line, which represents scores of the students at the top of the achievement scale (those at the 90th percentile), and the purple one just below it, are going up faster and faster, leaving the others behind. In 2009, after two years of Rhee, students at the 25th and 10th percentile dropped. To be fair, we don’t know if that drop is real, or is a result of the fact that so many students migrated to charter schools.

We do see that students at the 10th and 25th percentiles had their scores rise significantly in 2011 over 2009, so now they are a couple of points higher than they were in 2007, but that change is not statistically significant.

However, it is clear that overall, the gap in DCPS between the top scorers and the lowest scorers is widening. The 90-10 gap used to be 90 points back in 2003, but has risen to a new high of 107 points in 2011. The 75-25 gap has also reached a new high of 55 points, climbing from 48 points.

Now let’s look at the large city 200 miles to our northeast. I am referring to New York City, of course.

Unlike in DC, where we saw the lines getting farther apart as we move towards the present, in NYC the lines get closer together, which means that the gap between the high-achievers and low-achievers is getting smaller.

But not in a good way.

What is happening in New York’s public schools is that the scores of the students at the top and middle actually dropped over the past 2 years, while the scores of the students at the very bottom (10th percentile) continued to rise. That’s one way to narrow the gap, but it’s the wrong way.

So much for educational miracles happening under undemocratic control of the schools by Mayor Bloomberg! (Remember please that Bloomberg was the person who recommended Michelle Rhee to Adrian Fenty as another miracle-maker.)

Finally, let’s look at Atlanta.

Here we see a pattern that’s different from what we saw elsewhere. The various colored lines seem to be moving just about in lockstep with each other. The gap between the highest and lowest achievers hasn’t changed by much.


Now go back and look at all of those scores.

Have the students in DC miraculously overtaken students in other large cities, or the nation, as essentially promised by the education DEform crowd? No.

Are they on the road to doing so? Heck, no.

Have Rhee, Fenty, Henderson, Bloomberg, Joel Klein, and Vincent Gray delivered any educational miracles in DC or New York? Definitely not.

Published in: on December 9, 2011 at 11:02 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] I have shown repeatedly (see here, here, here, here, and here for starters. Or else here) DC has the widest gap of the entire USA between the scores of […]


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