It happens far too often. A researcher stumbles across data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (which everyone calls the NAEP). Their simple analysis seems to make Kentucky’s public schools look good. The next thing you know – Kentuckians are treated to yet another claim that our public education system has risen from the bottom of the states to score near the middle on this federal testing program.
The latest example of this showed up recently in the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence’s new blog. Prichard presents two graphs that show Kentucky now scores near, and sometimes even above, the national average on a variety of different NAEP assessments.
But do such simple analyses really give us an accurate picture? What happens, for example, if we look at disaggregated data for just our White kids? The table below shows how that looks for fourth grade NAEP mathematics.
White Grade 4 Math Scale Scores on the NAEP
1992 and 2007
Data Source: Our Analysis Using the NAEP Data Explorer
This clearly paints a very different picture. Our White students only outscored one state, West Virginia, back in 1992, when NAEP first gave a state-level fourth grade math assessment. In 2007, following years of expensive reform, our White kids – only outscored one state, West Virginia. Considering Kentucky’s student sample on the 2007 NAEP was 84 percent Whites, the fact that such a large portion of our students scored very poorly against their peers in other states raises strong questions about claims that Kentucky now performs near the national average.
To find out why the NAEP data for Kentucky looks so very different once scores are disaggregated, and to see scores for more races and subjects, including the serious NAEP math disappointment for our Black students, continue reading.