October 20, 2005

Are the bad getting better while the better get worse?

Opinion Journal's Best of the Web wonders if there's been an interesting spin on test scores in Michigan. Here's the bad news:

Michigan African-American fourth- and eighth-graders scored much worse in reading and math than African-American students in the United States as a whole, according to national test results released Wednesday. The 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress results show significant improvement in math. But the test results show little improvement in reading scores overall since 1992.

Now, the good news:

The good news is that the gap between black and white students' scores in math and reading within Michigan has decreased.

BotW assumes that the gap could not have closed without white students performing worse, and this article (interestingly) does not mention white student performance. But it does say that black students have improved in math and stayed level in reading. The "reverse Lake Wobegon" effect might be happening for reading, but not necessarily for math. If the black students have improved in math while the white students stayed even, and stayed level in reading while the white students declined slightly, we'd see this pattern.

I couldn't find change information by ethnic group and state in the 2005 report, but if you manage to see that anywhere, let me know.

Posted by kswygert at October 20, 2005 03:39 PM