If the people judging the Race to the Top (RTTT) federal education funding competition are smart about the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), they won’t be fooled by simplistic comparisons of overall scoring. If they dig just a bit deeper, they will find out that Kentucky’s overall scores only look fairly good because we have an unfair advantage – other states have been very adversely impacted by immigration of poor, non-English speaking students and high concentrations of low-scoring minority groups while Kentucky has always been a predominantly white state.
One way to get around Kentucky’s unfair advantage is to look at NAEP scores disaggregated by race. Here is how Kentucky’s RTTT competition shapes up once the new NAEP Grade 8 Math scores are disaggregated.
In the figure, which was created with the NAEP State Comparisons Tool, all states shaded green got statistically significantly higher scores than Kentucky. States shown in straw yellow, such as Tennessee, tied us. Only one state, West Virginia, got a score that was statistically significantly lower than we got – just one state, and West Virginia isn’t a RTTT finalist.
To learn more about the pitfalls of simplistic state-to-state comparisons of NAEP results, check out our freedomkentucky.org Wiki item on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The “Pitfalls” explanation in this Wiki item make it abundantly clear how only looking at simplistic state-to-state rankings of overall NAEP scores leads to highly misleading and inappropriate impressions about true performance (Kentucky Long Term Policy Research Center, Prichard Committee, KDE – Are you listening?).
One last note – the heavy geographic bias in the RTTT finalist selections is also obvious in this figure. Only Colorado lies west of the Mississippi (Louisiana straddles it).