"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ohio Tests Measure Economic Privilege of Test-Takers

Not to pick on Ohio, of course. The new study by Youngstown State professor, Dr. Randy Hoover, could be replicated in any state in the nation. The simple truth is that, regardless of the standardized test being used, the most reliable predictor of scores is family income. What surprises me most is that Dr. Hoover should be surprised--where has he been!

And what disappoints me most is the continued denial of state departments of education that economic privilege largely determines test scores. Do these numbnuts really believe that screening for cultural bias in test questions will change the advantage enjoyed by the advantaged? What will it take will expose the testing scam to those running it as the most reliable instrument for social sorting and continued oppression of the poor?

From the Dayton Daily News:

By Scott Elliott

Staff Writer

Sunday, August 31, 2008

DAYTON — A Youngstown State professor's study of testing data suggests Ohio cannot validly claim schools are improving or slipping based on state ratings and says the achievement gap between black and white students is exaggerated.

Randy Hoover's research showed Ohio has a large poverty gap in test performance between poor students and their wealthier classmates, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Hoover said the correlation of nonschool factors like median income with test performance was off the charts.

"This is an extremely high correlation for social science research," he said. "I've never seen anything this high."

Hoover's findings support a Dayton Daily News 2006 study of test performance and poverty in Ohio's 610 school districts that produced similar results. For that study, the newspaper's computer analysis of the impact of several student characteristics on test scores found median income of the district had by far the most powerful impact on its test performance.

Hoover's study went further. The three factors he found were most likely to predict test performance were the percentage of single parent wage earners, the percentage of poor children and the median family income in the district.

Combining those factors for what Hoover called the "lived experience index." He found they were responsible for at least 61 percent of a district's test performance.

. . . .

Karla Warren, a state education department spokeswoman, said the study does not fairly reflect efforts to ensure tests treat students of all wealth levels and ethnicity evenly.

"The Ohio Department of Education doesn't support the findings of this study, and we stand by our tests," she said. "Our tests undergo a detailed review process."

But Hoover argues the study shows Ohio draws invalid conclusions about the quality of school districts by using tests that largely measure how poverty impacts each district. . . .


  1. How many millions is spent on that study? I could have told him that over dinner and I wouldn't even need desert.

  2. I believe that this study upholds similar research comparing apples to apples student characteristics in the voucher programs, where their performance did not improve in private schools.

    Making a leap here: I watched a PBS series on health issues and it's conclusions also showed income affected a persons health and life expectancy.

    It would seem that economic disparity is the overarching issue our country faces. And we know that gap is widening.

  3. Regarding What Gee writes, I would like to say that my study did not require nor have millions. I did it from home without subsidy or remuneration from anyone. I spent nearly 1000 hours of my own time.

    The complete study is available at http://cc.ysu.edu/~rlhoover/OAT-OGT .

    Randy L. Hoover, Ph. D.