More on the 2013 NAEP

I would like to present some more results from the latest batch of released scores from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, so you can judge for yourselves.

As usual, the charlatans and quacks who are guiding US educational policy today claim that the results are clear proof that their ill-considered policies are working miracles, especially in the District of Columbia, my home town.

I claim that there has been no miracle. Yes, scores on the NAEP reading and math scores in the 4th grade and 8th grade are gradually but unevenly increasing — as has been the case for the past twenty years or so. But there has been no Rhee/Kamras/Henderson miracle in DC, or at least not one we can see on these graphs — no huge, enormous jump that trumps all growth prior to their mayoral takeover of the DC public schools.

Plus, we don’t yet know what weight the NAEP statisticians give to the scores of the kids in the regular public schools, those in the private or religious schools, or those in the charter schools. We do know that the proportion of white students counted in DC has increased substantially since the 1990’s, and that the proportion of black kids has shrunk, but we can only guess just what that means.

For each graph, I have drawn a thick, red, vertical line to distinguish the pre-“Rhee-form” era from the Era of Excellence and Data. See if you honestly see significant differences.

First, average NAEP math scores by states for 8th grade kids, 1990-2013. Remember, please, this is public AND private schools. I chose the states because they were the highest- or lowest-scoring ones in the nation (MA & MS) or because they were located near DC.

Fixed average 8th grade naep MATH scores by jurisdiction 1990-2013

Next, average NAEP reading scores for 4th graders:

fixed aveage 4th grade reaqding naep by states 1993-2013And lastly, average NAEP reading scores for 8th graders:

fixed average 8th grade naep reading scores by jurisdiction 1990-2013Remember: Mississippi, in an ugly shade of green on these graphs, is the lowest-performing state on both math and reading, and DC is still behind it.




Published in: on November 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm  Comments (9)  
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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I agree with your …! I honestly think we could teach all students basic math in less time than it takes to potty train … . So why is this not occurring. I actually have the answer:

    When I wrote my DISS. (i.e. a survey of the practices utilized by secondary math and science teachers in PA) @ Temple University (circa 2001); I had a comment section in my survey. One of the most prominent comments suggested that pre-service programs spend too much time emphasizing higher-level math–with little emphasis on (how to teach) basic math skills. I think the root cause of “our” … is inadequate teacher training (BOLD, Yes! — TRUE Yes!). MY Blog: (read more) FOLLOWING?


    • Teaching basic math skills takes a good bit of thought and experience and time, Those who don’t ‘get it’ easily see things quite differently from those of us who do ‘get it’ easily — in math and pretty much any other area of endeavour. So those of us who are good at math, if we want to teach that math to those who don’t understand what it’s all about and fear it, have to be clever about figuring out how to build little bridges from what a kid knows to what he/she doesn’t know, and to get rid of wrong ideas (like this: if you make the denominator of a fraction bigger, then whole thing gets bigger, too.)

      But you and I may have a different view on what “teaching” is and what “basic math” is.



      • Well, I’m not a math guy! I’m a philosopher… and I like your perspective!
        Best wishes, Ken (Help with change?)


  2. The results of the Kalamazoo program have been uneven. It’s apparently stopped white flight to the suburbs and kept the demographic mix in the schools stable. It’s also attracted students to the public schools, where enrollment has increased by 24%. And 90% of the kids who graduate from high school now go to college.


  3. It is reasonable to wonder why it is so important for Michelle Rhee and other “reformers” to constantly deride and disparage American public schools. Although we should always seek to improve, why should those efforts be expected to follow from derision? In truth, while we and others see daunting and unfilled needs in many schools, there has not been a sharp and sudden decline in student performance as is being implied, and in fact scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — sometimes referred to as the nation’s educational report card — are higher than ever before.


  4. Unfortunately, the experiment Rocketship embarked on with their students and communities proved to be rash. This year, they have slowed down and redesign is happening, for most schools, only in 4th and 5th grade classrooms. I think my biggest concern when thinking about redesign, which left many teachers bitter and caused many to leave Rocketship, is that even though Rocketship is experimenting with its model and unsure of its future direction, it still seeks to rapidly expand across San Jose and across America. It is irresponsible and egotistical to believe that a model that you have not figured out is superior to established public schools in the neighborhoods you are interrupting. This is especially true in light of last year’s CST scores which showed a decline at every Rocketship campus.


  5. U.S. public schools lag behind the schools of other developed countries in the areas of reading, math, and science.


  6. Why are our international rankings low? Our test scores are dragged down by poverty. On the latest international test, called PISA, our schools with low poverty had scores higher than those of Japan, Finland, and other high-scoring nations. American schools in which as many as 25% of the students are poor had scores equivalent to the top-scoring nations. As the poverty level in the school rises, the scores fall.


  7. Yes it has always been about poverty and the fact that most of our public schools are funded with property taxes that mean the poorest kids get the fewest resources for learning. On top of that our country now has one of the worst poverty problems in the developed world, thank you laissize faire capitalism.

    In DC time and again budget analysts have found the system giving the low poverty schools more money than high poverty schools. We have tried to force them to direct more resources to the neediest, but they keep developing work arounds. I think it is about keeping affluent families in the system to keep their test scores up.


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