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

Friday, May 21, 2010

NAEP Urban Reading Scores 2009: Measuring Poverty, AGAIN

At the very end of an article in Ed Week that featured various pundits verbally gesticulating on the various meanings that may be attributed to NAEP reading scores comes this nugget below, which, of course, should have led the story.  But then if it had, we might feel the need to do something about poverty, rather than treating it as just another reason to strike out on the noble road to corporate education reform. 

Detroit is dying with 17 percent unemployment, and the corporate solution is more charter schools and holding teachers accountable for the crimes of corporations that have left the children in rags and their parents homeless.
Tom Loveless, a senior scholar at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, offered some cautions about making direct comparisons between the performance of individual districts on NAEP. For one, he said, the exclusion rates for English-language learners and students with disabilities differ considerably across the 18 districts.

Also, he noted that there appears to be a close relationship between the poverty rate of a district’s student population and its performance on NAEP.

In fact, the five districts with the highest NAEP reading scores for 8th graders in 2009 were also the five with the lowest student-poverty rates, as measured by free- and reduced-price lunch count, though they did not match up in rank order.
For instance, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, had the lowest poverty rate for 8th graders of all 18 participating districts, at 46 percent, and Austin’s poverty rate was tied for the second-lowest, at 54 percent.

“Just in terms of the rank ordering of the districts, it’s highly correlated with their free- and reduced lunch [counts],” Mr. Loveless said. “You have to take demographics into consideration.”

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