The new 2019 NAEP scores have been released, and I’ve already covered several interesting things with a series of blogs on October 30, 2019 with the first one titled New NAEP results for Kentucky also disappoint – Grade 4 Reading. That series also examined Grade 4 math and Grade 8 Reading and Grade 8 Math. A second series of blogs started with NAEP 2019 – How does Kentucky really compare to other states? Grade 4 Reading, which showed comparisons to other states for Grade 4 and 8 NAEP Reading and Math.
Now, it’s time to look at how Kentucky’s white minus black student proficiency rate gaps, often called the achievement gaps, look.
Figure 1 shows the NAEP Grade 4 Reading proficiency rates for whites and blacks for all the years since NAEP started state-level testing in this grade and subject. The proficiency rates and information about statistical significance were obtained from the NAEP Data Explorer web tool.
Figure 1 first needs a little explaining. The boxed numbers above the blue line show the white students’ proficiency rates in each testing year. The boxed numbers below the orange line show black students’ proficiency rates for each testing year.
The NAEP is a sampled test, and there are sampling errors in all the scores. When a given year’s proficiency rate is statistically significantly different from the 2019 rate, it is shown in larger, bold italic typeface.
For whites, proficiency rates from 1992 to 2005 were statistically significantly lower than the 2019 white reading proficiency rate of 39%. On the other hand, the white 2015 NAEP Grade 4 Reading proficiency rate was statistically significantly higher than the 2019 rate, so it also appears in a larger, bold italic typeface.
For blacks, no prior year’s proficiency rate is statistically significantly different from the 2019 rate of 14%.
The last set of information shows the white minus black proficiency rate gaps. Each year’s gap is shown by a number in the middle of a double-headed arrow between the white and black rates for each year. The gap data also is impacted by statistical sampling errors, so while the gap nominally appears to have grown from 16 points to 25 points between 1992 and 2019, in fact the best we can really say is that the gaps are all statistical ties – in other words, after allowing for the NAEP’s possible measurement errors, there has been no measurable improvement in the Kentucky NAEP Grade 4 Reading achievement gap since 1992.
One more point: the superscript number 1 for the 1992 and 1994 years indicate that testing accommodations were not allowed for those tests. Since then, students with disabilities have been allowed to participate on the NAEP using most, sometimes all, of the accommodations they use in day-to-day classes and on Kentucky’s state assessments.
So, here are some messages from Figure 1 for NAEP Grade 4 Reading in Kentucky:
- Given the measuring limitations from the NAEP’s statistical sampling approach, the assessment shows no detectable reading progress for Kentucky’s black students from 2019 all the way back to 1992.
- Since 2015 white Grade 4 reading proficiency in Kentucky has definitely declined.
- Black reading proficiency appears to have declined about the same amount as the white decline since 2015, but due to larger sampling errors, we cannot call that score drop statistically significant.
- Except for 2015, which appears to be a statistical anomaly, white Grade 4 reading scores for Kentucky have been flat since 2007.
To see how the Kentucky gaps, look for the other subjects and grades tested, just click the “Read more” link.