kitchen table math, the sequel: Gone fishing (and did NCLB work?)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gone fishing (and did NCLB work?)

In Princeton, NJ, waiting for our room to be ready.

While I wait I'm looking at NAEP scores, and wondering.

Are we seeing evidence that No Child Left Behind worked?

  • Compared to the first assessment in 1971 for reading and in 1973 for mathematics, scores were higher in 2012 for 9- and 13-year-olds and not significantly different for 17-year-olds.
  • In both reading and mathematics at all three ages, Black students made larger gains from the early 1970s than White students.
  • Hispanic students made larger gains from the 1970s than White students in reading at all three ages and in mathematics at ages 13 and 17.
  • Female students have consistently outscored male students in reading at all three ages, but the gender gap narrowed from 1971 to 2012 at age 9.
  • At ages 9 and 13, the scores of male and female students were not significantly different in mathematics, but the gender gap in mathematics for 17-year-olds narrowed in comparison to 1973.

About NAEP
NAEP Summary


Jen said...

I"m not a fan of NCLB, but I'd agree that there are certain changes that have occurred which would explain these results.

1) Emphasis on kids in the lower 1/4 to 1/3 of a class: these kids are getting a lot more attention than they used to. That was a NCLB goal and I'd agree it has helped.

2) More emphasis on test-taking skills would raise scores on the NAEP as well as other tests. Back in the 70s (when I was 9 and 13!) we really had very little experience with multiple choice tests and with standardized testing. Kids nowadays do a LOT more of it. Reading a passage and answering MC questions about it are much more common.

Those two points would or at least could explain a lot of the difference.

17 yos have also been through all of the above though, so it will be interesting to see how the current 13 yos score in 4 years.

SteveH said...

I agree with Jen's number 1. Our schools are trying harder with these kids. The all-critical low proficiency cutoff is important to schools. They don't have to worry about the students who are easily over that level. Many parents and tutors are maintaining the upper score level, and the schools are bringing up the bottom. My view (and a few teachers I've talked to agree) is that the ones being hurt the most are the ones in the middle - easily over the proficiency level, but not reaching their potential.

Then there is the issue of looking only at relative gains of an average. Relative is an awful thing when one should be looking for much larger absolute gains.

Crimson Wife said...

I read one time that African-American children are biologically more vulnerable to ill effects from lead exposure than white children. Pediatric lead exposure has decreased dramatically since the 1970's and that could very well be playing a role in test score increases among blacks that has absolutely nothing to do with schools.