Log in  |  Search

NY State Fails to Narrow Black-White Test Gap: NAEP

Both white and black students raised their math and reading achievement levels from 1992 to 2007, according to a new federal report, but New York was not among the states that narrowed the achievement gap between the races. In fact, few states narrowed their black-white test gaps in either grade or subject, despite the long years of No Child Left Behind.

“Scores have been increasing for both black and white students for the most part, but we do not see a lot of progress in closing the achievement gap,” Stuart Kerachsky, Acting Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, told reporters at the National Press Club on July 14.

In fourth-grade math, 15 states narrowed the gap, including many of the largest — California, Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts and and Texas. But that was the highpoint. In eighth-grade math only four states closed that gap from 1990 to 2007; just three states narrowed the gap in fourth-grade reading; and no states at all showed any statistically significant improvement in the eighth-grade reading gap over the last two decades.

NCES used results from the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) that have already been published to do the new analysis. In the report, New York State does show slightly narrower gaps between white and black test scores in math and in fourth-grade reading since the early 1990s, but NCES did not find any of New York’s gains statistically significant. There was no real evidence of improvement.

Despite Chancellor Klein’s memorable claim a year ago that statistical significance was just a game, NCES significance tests are essential to analyzing and interpreting the changes in scores. NAEP tests are given to samples of students, and the results are subject to both sampling and measurement error unless they are subjected to significance tests. What the report shows is no progress in New York State in closing the black-white gap.

Ideally, NCES said, it wants to see both white and black achievement go up with blacks increasing at a faster pace. However, there were instances where gaps narrowed when white student performance stayed flat while black performance rose, or even when both groups declined but whites went down more. This was especially evident in eighth-grade reading.

“The stark fact is the gaps in school and life experiences that mirror gaps in school achievement are still with us like an uninvited guest who comes early and stays late,” said Paul Barton of the Education Commission for the States at this morning’s press conference. Commenter Hugh Price, a Brookings Fellow and Princeton professor, talked about generations of poverty and the need for rebuilding communities as well as schools.

No one said it, but NCLB was the elephant in the room. From 2002 to 2007, the law designed to disaggregate results and shine a harsh light on performance gaps did not succeed in remedying them. It may be time to actually support effective interventions instead of spending all the money to assign blame.



  • 1 Peter
    · Jul 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    It would be interesting to explore those states/cities in which the black/white gap was narrowed … take a look at the education and anti-poverty programs … a particular reading and/or math program, governance structure, jobs programs, etc… to what extent do incarceration rates correlate to ed achievement, raising and falling unemployment, foreclosures … a comprehensive program should include schools and their surrounding neighborhoods.

  • 2 Gotham Gazette - The Wonkster » Blog Archive » Weekly Web Wrap
    · Jul 17, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    […] Federal Report Shows State’s Failure to Narrow Racial Test Score Gap (Edwize) […]

  • 3 Phyllis C. Murray
    · Jul 28, 2009 at 10:13 am

    THE NCLB Wake Up Call Revisited
    By Phyllis C. Murray

    “Both the city and state rank near the bottom nationally in their ability to graduate black male students from high school, according to a new report, just 32 percent of black males graduated on time from city high schools in 2006 – compared to 57 percent of the city’s white students – ranking the city 54th of the 63 large school districts surveyed. The state similarly placed a dismal 45th nationally for its 37 percent graduation rate of black males in 2006 – far short of the 75 percent graduation rate of its white male students.” From: “NY WOE ON MINORITY GRAD RATES” By YOAV GONEN Posted: 3:47 am July 26, 2008

    The No Child Left Behind Legislation of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), has been a wake up call for many. This United States federal law is the key to a reauthorization of a number of federal programs that aim to improve the performance of America’s primary and secondary schools by increasing the standards of accountability for states, school districts and schools, as well as providing parents more flexibility in choosing which schools their children will attend. Thus, throughout New York City, parents are now given opportunities to decide where to send Johnny. And if we look at the minority graduation rates, we can see why many parents are turning their backs on the public school system. They must feel that the city, state and federal governments have also turned their backs on inner-city public schools.

    These parents are looking for vouchers, scholarships, charter schools, private and religious institutions to meet their needs. Far too often this pattern is repeated nationwide. We can even say that the public schools throughout the nation have been pauperized as one hears the cries of overcrowded classrooms, crumbling school buildings, out-of-date libraries, lack of textbooks, low academic standards, student violence, inadequate school safety, and failure to have highly qualified teachers i.e. one who has fulfilled the state’s certification and licensure requirements in every classrooom.

    When education is not a priority, the funding educators seek to implement the NCLB Law is never adequate. What we see is the fact that European and Asian nations are outdistancing the U.S. in the competitive world job market. These nations have reached the goal of educational excellence in their schools. These nations are investing in their greatest resource: their children.

    Martin Luther King was able to forecast this phenomenon in a speech he made to the UFT in 1964. “Education for all Americans has always been inadequate,” King said. “The richest nation on earth has never allocated enough of its abundant resources to build sufficient schools to compensate adequately its teachers. We squander funds on highways and the frenetic pursuit of recreation, on the overabundance of overkill armaments but we pauperize education.”

    It was Dr. King who reminded us that” we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Collaboration is the key in all successful negotiations. But that collaboration must embody mutual trust and mutual respect.
    Dr. King spoke, but apparently those in positions of leadership and power in government were not listening. King was assassinated in 1968. His legacy lives on today in those who wish to join teachers and concerned parents in a quest to provide the best education possible for all Americans. Yes, teachers and parents must continue to be the best advocates for children and education in America. Yes, Maise you are correct: “It may be time to actually support effective interventions instead of spending all the money to assign blame.”

  • 4 Frank Simpkins
    · Oct 25, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Check out the book “Between the Rhetoric and Reality”, ‘Dorrance Publishing'; 9-2009. It may possibly hold the clue towards decreasing the country’, horrendous Black/ White Academic -Achievement Gap!

  • 5 Frank Simpkins
    · Mar 5, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I read a recent article in USA Weekend by Colin and Alma Powell titled “ONE IN THREE KIDS DROPS OUT OF SCHOOL”. These figures are even more devastatings for Black inner-city students! Black students graduate three years behind White kids. Black students have a drop-out rate of 53%. If we combine this drop-out rate with the highly conservative estimate that 16% of these students will fail in state required exit exams, we arrive at a figure, indicating that only 37% of Black students will receive high school diplomas…. The Black /White Academic Achievement Gap can be effectively addressed and narrowed during this decade! History teaches us that “men and nations behave wisely, when they have exhausted all other alternatives”…. (Abba Eban). Please preview our latest book “Between the Rhetoric and Reality” Lauriat Press; Simpkins&Simpkins, 2009. It can be previewed on either”Amazon.Com, or Borders”.