The 2012 Long Term NAEP Report Is In. Can You Spot the Miracle?

The National Assessment for Educational Progress has been giving assessments to 9-, 13-, and 17-year-old American students in reading math since 1971, about every four years, more or less. That’s over four decades worth of data.

They just released their latest report, which includes test data from 2012.

You know how the Michelle Rhees and Arne Duncans and Joel Kleins and Paul Vallases and Bill Gates and the Koch Brothers have taken nearly full control of our nation’s public schools in the past four years or so. They have been firing teachers and evaluating them on strict rubrics and arcane algorithms with test scores that no one understands, eliminating any union protections, hiring untrained and unqualified but “excellent” low-paid temporary teachers, closing regular public schools, opening charter schools, promoting vouchers, and generally bringing on a Brave New World where all the children are above average. And scores have supposedly been rising through the roof, to hear them tell it.

So all those wonderful attacks on veteran teachers, added to enormous cuts in educational funding in many districts, must have caused huge increases in test scores, right?

Uh, I said, Right?


Well, I’ll let you see for yourself.

Actually, there has been no miracle whatsoever.

I reproduce a whole bunch of graphs from the NAEP report, and made a couple of charts from their data. I think you will be very hard pressed to find any big positive trends in the past four years.

naep ltt reading 9- 13- 17- year olds 1971-2012(You can click on any of these graphs to make them larger.)

The graph above shows the long-term trends in scores on the various math assessments given to 9-year olds, 13-year-olds, and 17-year olds (mostly but not always kids in grades 4, 8, and 11 or 12). There has not been a lot of change, frankly, but the tests have also changed in content and format, so I don’t really know how comparable they are over 40 years. With the current format, there was a bit of improvement from 2004 to 2008, but very little from 2008 to 2012. Certainly no “Michelle Rhee Miracle.”

The next one is the same thing, only for reading:

naep ltt reading 9- 13- 17- year olds 1971-2012Do you see this miracle spike we were promised in 2012? Me neither.

The next graph shows the gap in average reading scores between white and black 9 year olds. Here, the overall picture is that the gap is getting considerably narrower. Or, it WAS, until the DEformistas took over. It looks like the gap essentially stagnated in the past four years, under their enlightened despotism.

black-white reading naep ltt gaps 9 year olds

The next graph shows the gap in average reading scores for black and white 13 year olds:

black-white ach gaps 13 year olds reading naep ltt

Hmmm… looks like the gap’s getting wider now!?!

The next one is for reading again, black and white kids again, but for 17 year olds:

black-white ach gaps 17yo reading naep ltt

Finally a little bit of narrowing in the past four years — but NAEP statisticians carefully note that it’s not statistically significant, since the scores for neither group for 2008 had asterisks. Actually, that’s the case for the 13 year olds and the 9 year olds, too. No miracles.

And we gave Michelle Rhee and all the rest of her ilk all that money and fame — and they gave us NOTHING.

Published in: on July 1, 2013 at 8:21 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. This doesn’t mean everything is peachy; it doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets of unconscionably poor achievement; and it doesn’t mean we’re spending our educational dollars wisely. We can still argue about all that stuff, just as we can argue about charter schools, direct instruction, concentrated poverty, and much more. But the backdrop for those arguments is simple: test scores have been going up for the past four decades, and that rise has continued over the past decade. Not always steadily, but nonetheless going in the right direction. I’ll even add my usual caveat for the pessimists in the audience: test scores for 17-year-olds have been mostly flat, so we still need to figure out how to keep rising test scores from washing out in later years.


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