Since 2009 the Jefferson County Public School District (JCPS) has participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ (NAEP) Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA). That allows us to look at the white minus black achievement gaps in JCPS with a more established and reliable test than Kentucky’s home-grown KPREP.
Here is a quick summary of what the latest NAEP shows,
- JCPS black students’ performance has generally been flat, at very low proficiency rate levels, all the way back to the earliest data from 2009,
- Far fewer than one in five JCPS blacks tested proficient on any of the NAEP tests in grades 4 and 8 math and reading, and for Grade 8 math, fewer than one in ten blacks was proficient,
- JCPS white student performance has generally been statistically flat since 2013 and is flat in Grade 8 math all the way back to 2009,
- About 1 in two JCPS fourth grade whites tested proficient, but in Grade 8 well under half was proficient in reading and little more than one in three was proficient in math.
- In both Grade 4 math and reading, the 2017 gap is larger than in at least one previous year, and
- Gaps in the Grade 8 subjects have not changed by a statistically significant amount since 2009.
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JCPS’ biggest white minus black achievement gap in 2017 is found in NAEP Grade 4 Math. The actual proficiency rates used to compute those gaps come from the NAEP Data Explorer.
While 52 percent of the whites in JCPS scored proficient or above on NAEP in 2017, only 14 percent of the district’s black students scored at this level. The proficiency rate gap is thus 38 percentage points.
When you look at this graph, you have to keep in mind that all the NAEP scores have statistical sampling errors in them and are not precise. As a result, when we look at the white students’ 52 percent proficiency rate for 2017, this isn’t statistically significantly different from the whites’ rates in 2013 or 2015. In other words, since KPREP testing started in 2011-12 (an off year for NAEP testing), JCPS white Grade 4 students have made no discernable progress in math although the 2017 rate is statistically significantly higher than the whites’ rates posted in 2009 and 2011.
However, when we examine black scores, we see that the meager 14 percent NAEP Grade 4 Math proficiency rate in 2017 isn’t statistically significantly different from any previous year all the way back to 2009. In other words, JCPS black students’ NAEP Grade 4 Math performance has been flat for nearly a decade.
Returning to the gaps discussion, using statistical tools in the NAEP Data Explorer reveals that the 2017 gap is larger than the 28-point gap posted in 2011. So, compared to one previous year, there was growth in the gap.
Next, let’s examine NAEP Grade 4 Reading. Figure 2 shows how that looks.
First, the large, 35-point gap in 2017 is larger than gaps posted in both 2011 and 2013, so there recently has been gap growth here.
Also, white grade 4 reading performance has been flat since 2013 once the sampling errors in NAEP are considered, but whites did make some improvement compared to the earlier years.
Considering black student scores, no changes between 2017 and earlier years exceed the sampling errors in the scores, so this is also a flat performance in NAEP.
Figure 3 shows JCPS’ blacks perform their worst on NAEP Grade 8 Math, where the 2017 black proficiency rate was only an abysmally low 9 percent. Again, once the sampling error is considered, this is not significantly different from the very low black math proficiency rates in earlier years.
While whites in JCPS certainly outscore their black counterparts, white students have not seen any measurable growth on NAEP Grade 8 math, either, once the sampling errors are honored.
Finally, Figure 4 looks at the Grade 8 reading gaps.
As in the other examples, black performance is statistically flat from 3009 to 2017. The gaps have not changed enough to declare statistical significance, either.
White Grade 8 reading is statistically significantly higher in 2017 than it was back in 2009, but the best NAEP can show since then is a flat performance.