On May 8, 2018 the Jefferson County Board of Education heard a briefing about how their district performed on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) participated in the Trial Urban District Assessment part of the NAEP.
The board heard only part of the story, however. The presenters played games around the issue with student demographics that hid some rather disturbing comparison information. You see, Jefferson County, unlike the other TUDA districts, has a rather high enrollment of white students, around 45 percent in the 2017 Grade 8 NAEP math assessment, for example. This was statistically significantly higher than white enrollment in EVERY other TUDA district and was 2-1/2 times the percentage of white students found in large cities in the US today. Because white scores are much higher than minority scores on NAEP, just by having more whites, JCPS overall average scores will not really represent the district’s true performance accurately. But, things look a bit different when you do a more detailed analysis.
Figure 1 shows you the rest of the story for the results for Grade 4 NAEP math.
Statistical Significance Symbology in Figures 1 and 2
When we only look at what the JCPS briefing slide shows in the far left column, JCPS system ranks fairly high. It even gets listed above the Large City average score, although the difference in the scores isn’t statistically significant.
But, once we break things out by race, the district ranks notably lower for both white and black students. Also, both the Large City and the National Public averages now appear above JCPS, though the differences in scores are not statistically different for white students. However, for JCPS black students, the National Public and Large City scores are both statistically significantly higher.
In other words, blacks in JCPS are further left behind, again.
Figure 2 shows the results for the NAEP Grade 8 Math Assessment.
Even when you look at the all student scores in the left column that the JCPS staff presented, this picture doesn’t look so good, but it gets much worse when we look at how whites and blacks separately rank. Now, for both races, JCPS scores below the national and large city averages.
You can find more information in a short paper I assembled which also includes the reading rankings. Those look somewhat better, but except for white Grade 4 reading you will see the national and large city scores posted above the lines for JCPS.
Tech Notes: All rankings for white and black students were assembled using the statistical significance test tools in the NAEP Data Explorer. The All Student scores come from the JCPS briefing.