More Educational Miracles (Not!)

I have prepared charts and graphs for 8th grade NAEP average scale scores for black, hispanic, and white students in various jurisdictions: the entire nation; all large cities; Washington DC; Florida, Michigan; and Mississippi.

You will see that there was a general upwards trend in math from about 1992 to roughly 2007 or 2009, but the scores have mostly leveled off during the last decade. I included Michigan, since that is the state where current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has had the mo$t per$sonal influence, but that influence doesn’t look to be positive.

While it’s good that DC’s black students no longer score the lowest in the nation (that would be Michigan – see the first graph), there is another feature of my fair city: very high-performing white students (generally with affluent, well-educated parents) in its unfortunately rather segregated public schools, as you can see in the last graph. Naep 8th grade math, black students, various placesnaep math, hispanic, 8th grade, various places

naep 8th grade math, white students, various places

Can You See The Educational Miracles in DC, Florida, Michigan, and Mississippi?


Even though the Common Core curriculum is now essentially the law of the land (though well disguised), and nearly every school system devotes an enormous amount of its time to testing, and many states and cities (such as DC, Florida, and Michigan) are hammering away at public schools and opening often-unregulated charter schools and subsidizing voucher schemes?

You don’t see the miracles that MUST have flowed from those ‘reforms’?

naep reading 8th grade, black, nation, fl, dc, mi, ms, large cities

Neither can I.

I present to you average scale scores for black students on the 8th grade NAEP reading tests, copied and pasted by from the NAEP website for the past 27 years, and graphed by me using Excel. You will notice that any changes have been small — after all, these scores can go up to 500 if a student gets everything right, and unlike on the SAT, the lowest possible score is zero.

DC’s black 8th graders are scoring slightly lower than in 2013 or 2015, even though a speaker assured us that DC was an outstanding performer. Black Florida students are scoring lower than they did 2, 4, 6, or 10 years ago, even though Betsy DeVos assured us that they were setting a wonderful example for the nation. Michigan is the state where DeVos and her family has had the most influence, and it consistently scores lower than the national average. Mississippi was held up for us as a wonderful example of growth, but their score is exactly one point higher than it was in 2003.

Some miracles.


EDIT: Here are the corresponding charts and graphs for hispanic and white students:

naep, 8th grade reading, hispanic, various places


naep 8th grade reading, white students, various places

More on PIRLS international assessment of nations in reading

It’s utterly amazing:

Twelve minutes after twelve noon on December 12, 2012, (that is, 12:12 on 12/12/12 has come and gone, and somehow the sky still hasn’t fallen.

American fourth-grade students actually did quite well in comparison to about 50 nations in reading and literacy, according to the most recent PIRLS data. Here are two more graphs that I will share with you, which I took from pages 68 and 69 of that report.

PIRLS 4th grade benchmarks reading by nationThis graph is packed full of information!

First of all, notice that the USA is #7 out of all the 40+ nations when ranked by what percentage of students in each country attained scores deemed “advanced”.  We beat nations like Ireland, Israel, NZ, Canada, Taiwan, Denmark, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, France, Austria, and many more. That’s not bad.

Further, if you look at the middle, vertical blue line that I drew, you notice that the US has the sixth highest rate in the WORLD of students reaching the “high” benchmark as defined by PIRLS.

Finally, if you look at the median percentages, shown at the very bottom of the page and circled in blue by me, you see that the American rankings are way higher (farther to the right) than any of them.

My next graph shows how a few regions did. I’m going to take this with a bit more salt, however:

PIRLS 4th grade benchmarks for various regions


According to this table, Florida alone is #2 in the entire world. Is that really true? I don’t know; it doesn’t appear to be so highly ranked in reading on the NAEP; it’s tied for 12th place with Delaware, Kentucky, and Montana.

But I think it’s fair to say that American kids aren’t doing as poorly as many pundits and politicians keep saying.



Published in: on December 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm  Comments (6)  
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