NAEP Results Are In. No Answers to Important Questions.

Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress

There is some mildly good news for Virginia from the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, commonly called the Nation’s Report Card. Virginia 4th graders improved their performance in mathematics, while 8th graders made incremental gains in both math and reading. Virginia students also maintained a significant edge over their peers nationally in math and reading in both grades.

“For the first time, 50 percent of Virginia fourth graders achieved at or above the proficient level in mathematics, with 12 percent earning advanced scores,” states the Virginia Department of Education press release. “Students in no other state performed at a statistically higher level.”

NAEP results are based on representative samples of students in each state. The 2017 NAEP sampling of Virginia students included approximately 2,300 fourth-grade students and 2,200 eighth graders.

As is their wont, state officials took note of “achievement gaps between white students and their black and Hispanic peers.” The press release elaborates: “The percentage of black eighth graders achieving proficient or advanced math scores increased by eight points, to 20 percent in 2017, compared with 12 percent in 2015. While this represented a significant gain for black students, the improvement did not translate into a statistically significant narrowing of the achievement gap with white students.”

No mention of Asian students who comprise 8% of Virginia’s population. Why would that be? Perhaps the answer can be seen in the charts atop this page. There we can see that Asian/Pacific Islanders (which in Virginia means Asians because there aren’t many Pacific Islanders here) achieved the top scores. Thus, the “achievement” gap can also be seen as an Asian-white achievement gap, an Asian-black achievement gap, and an Asian-Hispanic achievement gap.

Why do state officials make whites the standard against which blacks and Hispanics measured? In order to advance the dominant narrative about race, of course. Setting Asians as the standard for comparison would confound the conventional wisdom. Perhaps Virginians would be compelled to ask why Asians out-perform other ethnic groups, including “privileged” whites. We would have to ask ourselves, do Asians attend better schools… or do they tend to out-perform in all schools? Don’t they face discrimination? If not, why not? Why are they disciplined at lower rates than other groups, including whites? Are they less likely to be disruptive in class? Do they study harder?

Setting Asians as the standard against which others are measured would force us to consider the role of intact families, personal behavior, and cultural norms and expectations rather than view racial/ethnic disparities through the lens of white privilege and minority oppression.

The focus on the white-black/Hispanic gap also conveniently ignores the English-fluent/English-as-a-second-language gap. For example, according to NAEP data, the score gap between 4th grade whites and Hispanics is 23 points. But the gap between English-fluent and English-as-a-second-language students is 36 points. Given the fact that Hispanics are more likely to not be English fluent, facility with the English language likely explains much of the white-Hispanic gap.

How much of the gap disappears when you compare whites with English-fluent Hispanics? How much of the broader white-Hispanic gap should be attributed to white privilege and how much should be attributed to the influx of poor, ill-educated immigrants from Mexico and Central America who have an immense amount of catching up to do? That question never gets asked.

Unfortunately, the searchable NAEP database does not allow us to make that comparison. What a surprise. I guess it never occurred to NAEP officials that such a comparison would be worthwhile. It would be nice if state educators would get over their black/white obsession and begin asking a wider range of questions.

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9 responses to “NAEP Results Are In. No Answers to Important Questions.

  1. from Wiki: “NAEP is a congressionally mandated project administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.” and which also defines the collection metrics. ”

    Perhaps this is yet another Federal Agency that Trump and company need to “change” and get to the questions that Jim B is asking?

    • NCES/IES/DoE is just another tool of the deep state. I’m sure that NCES didn’t invent the deep state narrative of “white privilege”. However, “white privilege” is a useful narrative for segments of the deep state. It provides a plank in the platform that justifies government intervention, wealth redistribution, etc in order to rectify the perceived modern-day injustices of a legitimate historical wrong. And any time there is a justification for more government intervention and wealth redistribution there are opportunities for deep staters to both reform society to their liking and to profit from the government’s actions. They readily do both.

      I am starting to think that the Trump presidency will end up like the Greek myth of Pandora’s Box. The box, when opened, released all of the evils in the world. The one positive that came from the box was hope. Trump may bring polarization, crippling deficits and even war to the people of the United States. However, the one benefit of his presidency will be clear evidence of an entrenched deep state that does more harm to America in a day than Trump could possibly do in two full terms.

      • I agree with Don. He knows a lot more about much of this than I. But let me add something through my perhaps different lens:

        These issues and differences raised in Jim’s article are well known. At face value they often appear to most of us static and immutable over time. That Black and White appearance is frightening, ugly, hard to accept. But is it true? Or at best only partially so? And does it not, all and every aspect of it, apply to all of use in some form and degree, singularly, and collectively, no matter our group, or subgroup, or non-group, or however one slices and dices these categories we chose? Indeed are the categories even valid, or pertinent to anything at all, other than to our own ignorance and prejudices, and fallibility? Is this science at all? And is it not, what ever it is, often paradoxical, complex beyond understanding, but easily mythologized, skewed, and twisted for ugly private advantage, the devils tool for evil doers and demagogues bent on destruction of others.

        Also, however fixed and stable some groupings appear, many more groups and variations thereof, and gaps and wedges between them, are being developed and refined constantly in our high tech and post modern world. This occurs for many reasons. Change is inherent and ubiquitous in nature. Man’s quest to understand and master it, and his most recent explosion of technologies, and their consequences, are only one example. Today hyper ideologies and culture wars magnify these trends.

        Thus these human groups and their differences, as we discover or invent them, seem to us to expand in numbers, and types and and degrees, as researchers develop, refine, and deploy ever more powerful tools to analyze differences and compute results, all based on man’s distorted values and views of the world. Mr. Zuckerberg’s Facebook testimony before Congress today proves this, the ever expanding ways that the few of us now are learning to slice, dice, and judge for good or ill the others of us, both in terms of groups and as individuals. And this allow ever more people to render ever more judgements on other people on ever more subjects. This opens Pandora’s box, cans of worms. And the consequences can be powerful, and problematic. For example, what we judge to be precise may only be based on our prejudices, warped values and superstitions, or those of our masters.

        So, unfortunately, the growing power of the cohort of the immoral among us are finding ever more opportunities to skew and demagogue this information to their private advantage in ever more different ways at every opportunity they can. This never ends. Witness the explosion of bigotry between the Duke Lacrosse Case years ago and Virginia Tech Lacrosse case today.

        This does mean research of groups is all bad. Absolutely not. It can be valuable. But it is easily weaponized. Demagogues use it to poison our world, and now have more weapons with more power than ever before.

        But there is a fatal flaw in this group research and all demagoguery it engenders. A simple principle and belief defeats it every time:

        People should never be judged, preferred, deprecated, or treated differently, in public or private, by reason of their race, their tribe, their class, their education, their religion, their politics, their income, or where they live. To violate that rule disrespects and deprecates individuals, and it strips them of their dignity and God given rights, in the most profound way I can imagine. Individuals, each and every one of us, is what matters here. All that matters here. Judging individuals by groups of people is a terrible sin. And always has been. It breeds violence, war, hate. It’s why Gandhi and Martin Luther King built their movements on this antidote.

        Why is this principle and belief true? There are endless reasons it is true. Many are not clearly understood. And likely never will be. But several are well known and without a doubt. The subject being measured has very limited meaning and significance or real value. Nor can it truly value any particular individual in any group, whether he or she exists in this world present or past. All individuals are unique. Each one varies from any and all others, of whatever group, and does so vary in endless ways.

        Hence, each one of us is un-quantifiable, beyond measure. Also know that as to all qualities that we and our machines can measure quantify as to a group applies not the the individual in any reliable way. Every individual within within that group or any group, holds the potential to, and will, vary all over the place on all our of scale and charts, by every difference and degree, and often does, whether they be measured or not. And what is measured in a small part of the whole of the individual.

      • If ” NCES/IES/DoE is just another tool of the deep state. ” then I wonder what the Census and the American Community Survey are. They must be the Mother of all Deep State tools, eh? And the Census has been around since before 1880!!! Now THAT’s a REALLY REALLY “deep state”!!!

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            This 1790 census is absolutely mind blowing.

            It’s incredible really, things like:

            1/ Where in the world did all those free while females, including heads of family, come from? The free girls outstrip the men by a country mile!!!! Why?

            2/ Look at those slave statistics and their distribution among states! Now we know why Virginia leaders got such bad habits so quick.

            3/ Look at the urban population! And the rest was all out in the country with terrible roads, bad mail, and now Wi Fi at all! Try to imagine how so much talent came from so few nevertheless, with so much separation and lack of education between them.

            4/ Who were the all other free persons? Indians? Resident Aliens?

            5/ My God, these folks were breeding like rabbits, especially when you consider the very high infant mortality rate. And the inherent difficultly of for many people in setting up families. I suspect illegitimacy was quite high, although quite hidden.

            A great book could be written on this census. Especially with our powerful new DNA techniques.

        • The deep state is pretty pervasive. Speaking of the census, how much did a slave count for in the early days of the country? 3/5? Yeah, no deep state manipulation of reality there.

          The deep state has been seen in the past. When Teddy Roosevelt busted the trusts he ended up having to form the Bull Moose Party since the deep state Republicans weren’t too keen on having Teddy back as their candidate. Taft followed proper deep state procedure by rigging the 1912 Republican primary forcing Teddy out on his own. Then there’s Dwight D. Eisenhower coining the term “military industrial complex”.

          “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

          That was during his farewell address, Larry. One of the most popular presidents who presided over a period of peace and prosperity. And what did he leave office saying? A warning about the deep state.

          Today we have Robert Mueller, deep state tool. He was asked to investigate collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. First of all collusion isn’t a crime except in anti-trust matters. Secondly, the special council law requires the scope of a special council to be specific. Yet, here’s the deep state’s tool chasing after Trump’s personal lawyer over making a payment to a porn star. I give up, how does that specifically pertain to the non-crime of collusion? The deep state doesn’t like President Trump and little things like the law won’t thwart the deep state.

          The difference today is the technology that allows the deep state to operate in a much more invasive and comprehensive way. There’s a gigantic set of white buildings in Bluffdale, UT Larry. Inside those buildings the NSA is spying on you. Depending on who you believe they are recording either the entirety of your communications or the metadata about those communications. Either way, they have quite a file on you Larry. And they’re keeping all that data forever. J Edgar Hoover used the FBI to collect embarrassing information on public figures to use for blackmail. Nixon had his enemies list. Obama used the IRS to harass conservatives and the FISA court to spy on Trump. Trump and Obama used people’s private data without their knowledge to help tip the election their way.

          Larry, if you can look at that data center in Utah with anything less than dread it’s high time that you re-read Orwell’s 1984.

          The only thing Orwell got wrong was the timing.

  2. Finally (belatedly) reading “Hidden Figures”, and as is always the case the book heats hell out of the movie. One major difference is that the ability of those math whiz women (and the pioneering black male engineers) was actually recognized and rewarded fairly quickly, more quickly than you’d think from the movie. Now, someone might argue Hollywood was seeking to score political points by mixing up incidents from the 40s with the 60s. Maybe. Maybe it just wanted more drama.

    But the book confirms my opinion that whatever “racial” differences these “studies” are seeking to measure, genetics and biology have nothing to do with it. Culture matters, opportunity and encouragement matter, expectations matter, but biology really doesn’t. We have met the enemy, and he is us.

    Trump in the role of Pandora. Interesting.

  3. This reminds me of a long and vigorous discussion in law school about racial and ethnic group members in law and other professional schools. Some students made arguments for setting a minimum number of seats for racial and ethnic groups that had substantially fewer members than their relative portion of the population. (Where and how to measure the base population was also debated vigorously.)

    Then someone asked whether in the event that a minimum number of law school admissions was established for various racial and ethnic groups, how should Universities address admissions for those racial, ethnic and religious groups that were substantially over-represented in admissions to law and other professional schools. Should maximums be used along with minimums? Many, but not all, of those students arguing for set-asides changed their argument and opposed any caps for those gr0ups that were over-represented (and which they were themselves members thereof). Finally a question was asked, but not answered: in a world with set asides for the under-represented and no caps on the over-represented, who comes out the loser(s)?

    I left the classroom with all the information I needed and began to see the hypocrisy of the strong left. Many want others to pay the price for salving their social conscience.

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