This is taking the average of four 2015 federal NAEP scores: both Math and Reading for both 4th and 8th Grades.
This is taking the average of four 2015 federal NAEP scores: both Math and Reading for both 4th and 8th Grades.
Here are the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for Asians (orange) and whites (blue). I took a simple average of four scores: Reading and Math for both 4th and 8th grades. The overall sample size for the whole country is about 280,000, which is a lot, although I wouldn’t put too much faith in any one state’s scores, such as Colorado’s outlier score for Asians.
One observation I’d make is that Hawaii suggests the long term price of importing farm workers: Hawaii brought in a lot of Japanese and Chinese many generations ago, and in 2015 they’re still not scoring impressively.
Here are the brand new 2015 federal National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests scores sorted in order of the size of the White-Black Gap on 8th grade math. The color reflects whether the state went for Obama (blue) or Romney (red) in 2012.
A few comments:
- Although it’s often assumed that The Gap is due to racism, it tends to be bigger in blue Democratic states.
- Gentrifying Washington DC now has enough white children to get a white NAEP score. Sure enough, The Gap in very liberal Washington DC is bigger than in all the states, due to a very high white score in DC and a slightly below average black score.
- German-Americans and Nordic-Americans don’t seem to know how to deal with African-Americans. As I’ve often pointed out, the biggest Gap is in Wisconsin, but in this table Nebraska, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania have the next widest Gaps. (Any relationship between this and Merkel’s Boner is probably not coincidental.)
- The highest black scores are in Dept. of Defense schools (DODEA), followed by military intensive states like Arizona and Alaska and well-educated liberals states like New Jersey and Massachusetts that also have high white scores.
- The smallest Gap is in West Virginia, which has, by far, the lowest white scores.
For years, Audacious Epigone and myself have been pointing out that Texas public school kids do surprisingly well on the federal NAEP exam within each ethnic group. Now, the NYT finally figures that out, too:
When the Education Department releases its biennial scorecard of reading and math scores for all 50 states this week, Florida and Texas are likely to look pretty mediocre. In 2013, the last time that scores were released, Florida ranked 30th on the tests, which are given to fourth and eighth graders, and Texas ranked 32nd.
But these raw scores, which receive widespread attention, almost certainly present a misleading picture — and one that gives short shrift to both Florida and Texas. In truth, schools in both states appear to be well above average at teaching their students math and reading. Florida and Texas look worse than they deserve to because they’re educating a more disadvantaged group of students than most states are.
A report released Monday by the Urban Institute has adjusted the raw scores for each state to account for student demographics, including poverty, race, native language and the share of students in special education. The central idea behind the adjustments is that not all students arrive at school equally prepared, and states should not be judged as if students did.
“Making these demographic adjustments,” said Matthew Chingos, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and the report’s author, “gives us a much better picture of how students are doing.”
With the adjustments, Texas jumps all the way to third in the 2013 state ranking, and Florida to fourth. Massachusetts, which also ranks first with unadjusted scores, remains in the top spot; although the state is relatively affluent, its students perform even better than its demographics would predict. New Jersey ranks second.
Other states with a less extreme version of the Florida and Texas story — that is, their schools are performing better than is often understood — include Arkansas, Georgia, Nevada and New York.
The new results will no doubt offer fodder for the continuing debate over education. Florida and Texas are mostly Republican-run states, where teacher unions are relatively weak and policy makers have tried to introduce more competition and accountability. At the same time, some states with a strong union presence, including New Jersey and New York, also perform well.
The results do seem to offer another vote of confidence for rigorous, common standards — an idea that took off with the Common Core, but has since come under harsh political attack. Massachusetts helped pioneer the idea of such standards in 1993, with ambitious goals, clear assessments and increased school funding.
States with less impressive results in the Urban Institute analysis, where favorable demographics are disguising mediocre performance, include Connecticut, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and Iowa. And while New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota and Washington are still above average, their scores are not as impressive as the unadjusted numbers suggest.
Many of these states are affluent or predominantly white — if not both. The new analysis suggests that many of their school systems have better reputations than they deserve. They enroll a lot of students who come to school well prepared and thus excel on tests. But the schools themselves are not doing as good a job as their test scores suggest.
This won’t come as a surprise to long-time readers of the Steveosphere.
But, while it’s journalistic custom to refer to the NAEP as “the gold standard” of testing, how much can we really trust the NAEP for making these kind of subtle state by state comparisons?
Specifically, the NAEP are low stakes tests to the kids, and in some states, the adults administering the NAEP treat them as low stakes for them too. On the other hand, there is some evidence that Texas administrators cares about their schools scoring better on the NAEP. For example, Texas excuses 10% of its sample of 4th graders from taking the NAEP while California only excuses 3% of its sample.
In contrast, the SAT and ACT college admissions tests taken by juniors and seniors in high school are clearly high stakes tests on which students have an incentive to try hard.
But comparing SAT and ACT average scores are tricky because in most states not everybody takes even one of the tests because they aren’t interested in applying to a competitive college.
And there are regional differences in whether a state is traditionally an ACT state (e.g, Iowa) or an SAT state (e.g., New Jersey) that influence average scores. For example, a few decades ago, Iowa usually led the county in average SAT scores because the only Iowa students who took the SAT were brainiacs interested in applying to the exclusive coastal colleges.
On the other hand, the regional differences are blurring as, especially, the ACT aggressively pushed into SAT states. Now it’s becoming common for ambitious students to take both tests to see which one they do better upon.
In general, the smarter people are, the more likely they are to take a college entrance exam. So, the lower the percentage of kids taking an exam in a state, the more inflated that state’s average score tends to be relative to the whole population of kids in the state, which is the figure I’d like to roughly estimate.
So, I’m going to present the 2014 SAT and ACT numbers for the two biggest states, Texas and California, both average scores and percent of the cohort taking each exam.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember who provided me with these numbers of SAT and ACT scores from 2006 through 2014, both set on the old-fashioned SAT 400 to 1600 scale (i.e., leaving out the doomed Writing subtest; the ACT is a 3 part exam with a maximum score of 36 but the ACT people publish tables for how to convert ACT scores to SAT scores). So, I don’t know if these data are reliable. But they don’t seem too implausible either. Also, I found the 2010 Census data for 13 year olds by race in each state as a proxy for 17 year olds in 2014. (For some reason, I couldn’t find Asians by age in Texas in 2010, so I’ll just stick to the Big Three racial/ethnic groups.)
Let’s start off by looking at the white scores. In California, the total number of SAT tests said to be taken by whites in 2014 was equal to 47% of the number of white 13-year-olds in 2010 on the Census. In Texas, the percentage of SAT takers among whites was 49%, so we can compare the average SAT scores pretty directly, with just a reminder that this comparison is slightly biased in favor of California: California white kids score 1099, which is 36 points higher than Texas’s average white SAT score. The standard deviation on the 400 to 1600 scale was supposed to be 200 (although it’s gotten larger over time), so that would suggest California kids score about 0.18 standard deviations higher on the SAT, which is not a large gap, but not vanishingly small either.
On the ACT, California white high school students average 1144 and Texas white kids 1078, for a 64 point or .32 s.d. gap. But only 21% of white kids in California take the ACT, suggesting it’s kind of a boutique test in California for strivers. In contrast, 32% of Texas whites take the test, suggesting there the ACT in Texas falls in between a boutique test and a meat and potatoes test. So, it’s hard to compare the ACT scores for whites directly.
But my general impression is that whites in California, at least among the college curious, score a little better on college admissions tests than whites in Texas.
(One methodological quibble to keep in mind is that I don’t know how the data treats an individual student retaking the same test in one year. Do they enter all the scores or just the highest? And is the likelihood of retaking the same test greater in one state or the other?)
The difference is pretty small, but it’s in the opposite direction of the difference reported by the NAEP.
Among blacks, the California advantage appears to be quite similar to what’s seen among whites: small but not insignificant.
On the other hand, among Hispanics, California’s advantages in test scores are smaller than among among whites and blacks, and Texas Hispanics are somewhat more likely to take both the SAT and ACT. I’m not at all confident that California Hispanics would do better overall than Texas Hispanics if everybody in both states took a college admissions test.
So, my best guess would be: modest advantages for the white and black populations of Californians over white and black Texans, respectively, but Hispanics in Texas overall are no lower scoring and might actually be a few points higher.
By the way, Texas Asians score 16 points higher on the SAT and 17 points higher on the ACT than California Asians. I would include them in the table if I could find the 2010 Census figures for the number of 13-year-old Asians in Texas.
A general assumption of the moderate conventional wisdom over the last half century is that average black performance is dragged down by specific impediments, such as poverty, crime, culture of poverty, parental taciturnity, lead paint, or whatever. One would therefore expect blacks without those impediments to score equal with whites.
But a close inspection of the social science data suggests that the world doesn’t really look like that. For example, above is the 2013 federal National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for 12th graders in Reading. Blacks who are the children of college graduates average 274, which is the same as whites who are the children of high school dropouts.
The Math Gap is the same:
At the high school dropout level, The Gap in math is 16 points, but at the college graduate level, The Gap is twice as large: 32 points. That’s the opposite of what the conventional wisdom would imply.
So, basically, there are two theories left to account for this. How do we choose between them?
In the past, Western civilization tried to follow Occam’s Razor, which implies the Bell Curve theory of regression toward different means would be most likely.
But the term “Western civilization” is exclusionary and makes people feel bad. These days, we know that the highest form of thought is not using Occam’s Razor but shouting “Occam’s racist!”
So the only viable explanation is the Conspiracy Theory Theory of Pervasive Racism: people who think they are white are constantly destroying black bodies by saying words like “field” and “swing.” Or something. It doesn’t really matter what the specifics of the Conspiracy Theory Theory are since the more unfalsifiable the better.
Paul Krugman argues today that Puerto Rico is kind of like West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama:
Put it this way: if a region of the United States turns out to be a relatively bad location for production, we don’t expect the population to maintain itself by competing via ultra-low wages; we expect working-age residents to leave for more favorable places. That’s what you see in poor mainland states like West Virginia, which actually looks a fair bit like Puerto Rico in terms of low labor force participation, albeit not quite so much so. (Mississippi and Alabama also have low participation.) … There is much discussion of what’s wrong with Puerto Rico, but maybe we should, at least some of the time, just think of Puerto Rico as an ordinary region of the U.S. …
Okay, but there’s a huge difference in test scores.
The federal government has been administering a special Puerto Rico-customized version of its National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam in Spanish to Puerto Rican public school students, and the results have been jaw-droppingly bad.
For example, among Puerto Rican 8th graders tested in mathematics in 2013, 95% scored Below Basic, 5% scored Basic, and (to the limits of rounding) 0% scored Proficient, and 0% scored Advanced. These results were the same in 2011.
In contrast, among American public school students poor enough to be eligible for subsidized school lunches (“NSLP” in the graph above), only 39% scored Below Basic, 41% scored Basic, 17% scored Proficient, and 3% scored Advanced.
Puerto Rico’s test scores are just shamefully low, suggesting that Puerto Rican schools are completely dropping the ball. By way of contrast, in the U.S., among black 8th graders, 38% score Basic, 13% score Proficient, and 2% score Advanced. In the U.S. among Hispanic 8th graders, 41% reach Basic, 18% Proficient, and 3% Advanced.
In Krugman’s bete noire of West Virginia, 42% are Basic, 20% are Proficient, and 3% are Advanced. In Mississippi, 40% are Basic, 18% Proficient, and 3% are Advanced. In Alabama, 40% are Basic, 16% are Proficient, and 3% are Advanced. (Unmentioned by Krugman, the lowest scores among public school students are in liberal Washington D.C.: 35% Basic, 15% Proficient, and 4% Advanced.)
Let me repeat, in Puerto Rico in Spanish, 5% are Basic, and zero zip zilch are Proficient, much less Advanced.
Am I misinterpreting something? I thought I must be, but here’s a press release from the Feds confirming what I just said:
The 2013 Spanish-language mathematics assessment marks the first time that Puerto Rico has been able to use NAEP results to establish a valid comparison to the last assessment in 2011. Prior to 2011, the assessment was carefully redesigned to ensure an accurate assessment of students in Puerto Rico. Results from assessments in Puerto Rico in 2003, 2005 and 2007 cannot be compared, in part because of the larger-than-expected number of questions that students either didn’t answer or answered incorrectly, making it difficult to precisely measure student knowledge and skills. The National Center for Education Statistics, which conducts NAEP, administered the NAEP mathematics assessment in 2011. But those results have not been available until now, as it was necessary to replicate the assessment in 2013 to ensure that valid comparisons could be made.
“The ability to accurately measure student performance is essential for improving education,” said Terry Mazany, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP. “With the support and encouragement of education officials in Puerto Rico, this assessment achieves that goal. This is a great accomplishment and an important step forward for Puerto Rico’s schools and students.”
NAEP assessments report performance using average scores and percentages of students at or above three achievement levels: Basic, Proficient and Advanced. The 2013 assessment results showed that 11 percent of fourth-graders in Puerto Rico and 5 percent of eighth-graders in public schools performed at or above the Basic level; conversely, 89 percent of fourth-graders and 95 percent of eighth-graders scored below that level. The Basic level denotes partial mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for grade-appropriate work. One percent or fewer of students in either grade scored at or above the Proficient level, which denotes solid academic performance. Only a few students scored at the Advanced level.
The sample size for 8th graders was 5,200 students at 120 public schools in the Territory.
UPDATE: I’ve now discovered Puerto Rico’s scores on the 2012 international PISA test. Puerto Rico came in behind Jordan in math.
Results this abysmal can’t solely be an HBD problem (although it’s an interesting data point in any discussion of hybrid vigor); this has to also be due to a corrupt and incompetent education system in Puerto Rico.
New York Times’ comments aren’t generally very useful for finding out information, but Krugman’s piece did get this comment:
KO’R New York, NY 4 hours ago
My husband and I have had a house in PR for 24 years. For two of those years we taught English and ESL at Interamericana, the second largest PR university. Our neighbors have children in the public grade schools. In a nutshell: the educational system in PR is a joke!!! Bureaucratic and corrupt. Five examples: (1) In the elementary schools near us if a teacher is sick or absent for any reason, there is no class that day. (2) Trying to get a textbook changed at Interamericana requires about a year or more of bureaucratic shinnanigans (3) A colleague at Interamericana told us that he’d taught in Africa (don’t remember where) for a few years and PR was much worse in terms of bureaucracy and politics. ( (4) The teaching method in PR is for the teacher to stand in front of the class, read from the textbook verbatim, and have the students repeat what he or she read. And I’m not speaking just about English – this goes for all subjects. 5) Interamericana is supposed to be a bi-lingual iniversity. In practice, this means the textbooks are in English, the professor reads the Spanish translation aloud, and the usually minimal discussion is in Spanish. …
Public school spending in Puerto Rico is $7,429 per student versus $10,658 per student in the U.S. Puerto Rico spends more per student than Utah and Idaho and slightly less than Oklahoma.
Puerto Rico spends less than half as much as the U.S. average on Instruction: $3,082 in Puerto Rico vs. $6,520 in America, significantly less than any American state. But Puerto Rico spends more than the U.S. average on Total Support Services ($3,757 vs. $3,700). Puerto Rico is especially lavish when it comes to the shifty-sounding subcategories of General Administration ($699 in PR vs. $212 in America) and Other Support Services ($644 vs. $347). PR spends more per student on General Administration than any state in America, trailing only the notorious District of Columbia school system, and more even than DC and all 50 states on the nebulous Other Support Services.
Being a schoolteacher apparently doesn’t pay well in PR, but it looks like a job cooking the books somewhere in the K-12 bureaucracy could be lucrative.
The NAEP scores for Puerto Rico and the U.S. are for just public school students.
A higher percentage of young people in Puerto Rico attend private schools than in the U.S. The NAEP reported:
In Puerto Rico, about 23 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade attended private schools as of the 2011-2012 school year, compared with 10 percent in the United States. Puerto Rico results are not part of the results reported for the NAEP national sample.
So that accounts for part of the gap. But, still, public schools cover 77% of Puerto Ricans v. 90% of Americans, so the overall picture doesn’t change much: the vast majority of Puerto Rican 8th graders are Below Basic in math.
Another contributing factor is likely that quite a few Puerto Ricans summer in America and winter in Puerto Rico and yank their kids back and forth, which is disruptive to their education.
It’s clear that Puerto Ricans consider their own public schools to be terrible and that anybody who can afford private school should get out. The NAEP press release mentions that 100% of Puerto Rican public school students are eligible for subsidized school lunches versus about 50% in the U.S. Heck, Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro’s lawyer father didn’t just send him to private school, they sent him to a boarding school in Pennsylvania.
Still, these Puerto Rican public school scores are so catastrophic that I also wouldn’t rule out active sabotage by teachers, such as giving students an anti-pep talk, for some local labor reason. For example, a PISA score from Austria was low a couple of tests ago because the teacher’s union told teachers to tell students not to bother working hard on the test. But the diminishment of the Austrian PISA score wasn’t anywhere near this bad. And Puerto Rico students got exactly the same scores in 2011 and 2013.
And here’s Jason Malloy’s meta-analysis of studies of Puerto Rican cognitive performance over the last 90 years.
From the Baltimore Sun:
May 21, 2013|By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun
The Baltimore school system ranked second among the nation’s 100 largest school districts in how much it spent per pupil in fiscal year 2011, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The city’s $15,483 per-pupil expenditure was second to New York City’s $19,770. Rounding out the top five were Montgomery County, which spent $15,421; Milwaukee public schools at $14,244; and Prince George’s County public schools, which spent $13,775.
Baltimore City, New York, and Milwaukee test scores are broken out separately in the NAEP test’s Trial Urban District Assessment program. (The other two districts are suburban counties in the rich Washington DC area. Three of the top five most expensive districts in the country are in liberal Maryland.) I’ll look at 8th grade math for black students only:
National (public schools): 51% basic or above, 14% proficient or above, 2% advanced
Baltimore City: 44% basic or above, 10% proficient or above, 1% advanced
New York City: 51% basic or above, 13% proficient, 1% advanced
Milwaukee: 31% basic or above, 4% proficient, NA advanced
So, Baltimore gets more for its money than Milwaukee. (Of course, if you’ve been reading iSteve for long, you’ll know of the amazing dismalness of Milwaukee blacks.)
Long time readers know I’ve been interested in the question of school test scores in the two biggest states, California and Texas. In the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, Texas routinely beats California across all racial groups. But the NAEP is low stakes to students, which makes it easier for state officials to manipulate results at the margins.
However, looking at an unverified table of high-stakes SAT and ACT college admission average test scores for 2014, white, Hispanic, and black California high schoolers outscore their counterparts in Texas (using a weighted average of SAT and ACT scores). But Texas’s Asians outscore California’s Asians.
|Race||CA||CA SAT/ACT||TX||TX SAT/ACT||CA-TX|
Both states are moderately majority SAT: in California, SAT takers outnumber ACT takers 2.1 to 1, and in Texas 1.5 to 1. This appears to be putting everything on the traditional 400 to 1600 scale, rather than the 600 to 2400 scale of the last decade, but that is being phased out soon. The mean was rescaled in 1995 to, ideally, be 1000 with a standard deviation of 200, although both have drifted since then.
So, California’s overall average is 97 points, or a little under a half of a standard deviation below it’s white average, while Texas’s overall average is 96 points below it’s white average.
I’m not going to put too much credence in these numbers: even if the data are valid (which I haven’t checked), my weighted average methodology is crude. On the other hand, the results don’t seem too implausible.
I mostly want to put some numbers out there to provoke somebody interested in this long-running problem of how to synthesize SAT and ACT scores reliably to try to come up with a more sophisticated general model.
One of the older, more nagging conundrums for anybody interested in education and demographics is the lack of readily available meaningful data on how high school students do by state and by race on high stakes tests such as the SAT and ACT college admissions tests.
The federal government invests a lot of money in the NAEP test, but that is a low stakes test for students, so it’s more easily manipulable by those states that care about the results. For example, Texas usually manages to have a larger percentage of its less academically inclined students not take the NAEP than does Iowa, which helps contribute to Texas’s sterling NAEP scores.
Or maybe Texas really has figured out an effective, economical system of educating students of all ethnic groups. It’s hard to say, but it’s an important question that deserves study.
A high stakes test, in contrast, is one in which students have motivations for doing their best, which is why I’ve always wanted to look at SAT and ACT scores by state. After all, the NAEP isn’t important in the big picture, while the SAT and ACT are.
But, the percent of 17-year-olds taking one or both college admissions tests vary by state. This, however, is not an insuperable problem since estimates of what nontakers might have scored can be modeled demographically by looking at the variation in usage rates.
Another difficult problem, but one I believe can be modeled, is that the two tests started out regionally, with the ACT dominating states near its headquarters in Iowa City and the SAT near its headquarters in Princeton and on the West Coast.
In the upper Midwest, traditionally, the only students who took the SAT were ambitious one looking for admission to national universities on the East or West coasts. This led to Iowa and Illinois students taking the SAT averaging much higher scores than in the East and West.
In recent years, both tests have become less regional, with ACT-taking spreading to the coasts.
That evolution should help an ambitious analyst come up with a reasonable model for estimating the best guess for the combined SAT/ACT scores by state by race.
An iSteve reader (whose identity I have lost in the shuffle) kindly posted average SAT and ACT scores and number taking by state by race each year from 2006-2014 here. He converted the ACT scores into SAT score equivalents, although I don’t know which methodology he used.
Combine this trove of data with the 2010 Census data on the number of 17 year olds by race in each state and you have the raw materials for building a model that will get around the traditional problems that have bogged everybody down.
Me, personally, I’m not going to do all this work, but if somebody out there has the skills and is looking for a topic, this is an important one.
I don’t have the sources for this data, but if you are interested in working with this, post questions in the comments and the person who posted the numbers might respond.
Audacious Epigone has posted his table of white IQ estimates by state, using NAEP scores for 8th graders (public and private), ranging from 108.0 in Washington D.C. (which isn’t a state) and 104.4 in Massachusetts and 103.5 in New Jersey to 97.7 in Oklahoma, 97.5 in Alabama and a hurting 95.1 in West Virginia.
Thus, New Jersey whites (who, Bruce Springsteen songs to the contrary, are a notably intelligent and well-educated white population) scores 0.4 standard deviations higher than Alabama whites. That’s not a huge gap. On the other hand, the 0.86 s.d. gap between Washington D.C. whites and nearby West Virginia whites is substantial, and may subtly color a lot of media discourse.
Moynihan’s Law of the Canadian Border is still vaguely visible, but is much less strong for whites only than for total populations (which is of course most of the joke). Texas of course stands out sharply from the central southern states.
Of course, some of the differences in test scores don’t reflect underlying IQ but are instead reflections of different effectivenesses at educations and, presumably, at how hard different states get their students to try on the NAEP.
You can read his whole table there.