Black Reading Scores Plummet in 2019 Testing

The latest NAEP scores are out for 4th and 8th graders. For 8th graders, they show that the average reading score dropped three points and the average math score dropped one point over the past two years. Obviously that’s not good news, but these are small changes on a single test and it’s hard to draw any longer-term conclusions from them. They certainly don’t represent a “student achievement crisis,” as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos put it.

Besides, if I’ve taught you anything, it’s this: at a minimum, you have to decompose the scores by race to see what’s really going on. Often it turns out that—

Yikes! The 50th percentile is basically the median score, and among African American 8th graders it dropped five points. That’s roughly half a grade level. And the results were even worse among low performers.

I don’t have any special explanation for this, but that’s a big drop. I can’t say whether this counts as a “crisis,” but considering the already grim test gap between white and black students it sure comes close to one. Let’s see if Betsy DeVos gives it the attention it deserves.

POSTSCRIPT: For the record, 8th grade math scores were unchanged for all races and all performance levels.

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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