NAEP Scores Detail Hispanic Student Performance

Hispanic fourth- and eighth-graders made small gains in math and reading on the National Achievement of Educational Progress — known as the “Nation’s Report Card” — but achievement gaps remain a persistent problem.

The latest data released measured growth between 2011 and 2013.

Hispanic and black children still have not caught up to white children. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the achievement gaps are troubling, The Dallas Morning News reported. He used the opportunity to promote the expansion of preschool programs.

“The only way to significantly close the achievement gap is to stop playing catch-up (after students start regular classes) and increase access to early childhood education,” he said. “Why don’t we try fixing the problem before it begins?”

Hispanic fourth- and eighth-graders made progress in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress between 2011 and 2013, according to new data. Additionally, Hispanic eighth-graders scored higher in reading in 2013 than two years earlier.

You can access online data for more detailed performance data by state.

Related Links:

“U.S. Reading and Math Scores Show Slight Gains,” The New York Times.

“U.S. Students Show Incremental Progress on National Test,” The Washington Post.

“Texas Hispanic Students Lag in ‘Nation’s Report Card,'” The Dallas Morning News.

National Assessment of Educational Progress

New Report Critical of NCLB Waivers

States are obtaining federal waivers from meeting some of the more onerous provisions of  No Child Left Behind, raising concerns that achievement gaps may no longer be exposed. A new analysis by the Campaign for High School Equity finds that the waivers would essentially weaken the law.

The study finds that in 13 states that received waivers, including Nevada and New Mexico, the number of struggling schools requiring interventions has dropped by more than 100.

“This raises questions as to whether or not struggling students will receive the support and services they desperately need and deserve,” according to the group.

The group calls on states to make sure they are accountable for every individual student subgroup, whether that be by race and ethnicity, low-income status or English Language Learners.

The report raises concerns about states that are creating “super subgroups” in their new accountability systems that combine subgroups together into one group (for example mixing ELLs, black and Hispanic students) or create a subgroup based on achievement levels.

The report outlines details on the performance groups.

Related Links:

– “Study: Education Waivers Could Leave Behind At-Risk Students,” Associated Press.

– “At-Risk Students May Lose UNder NCLB Waivers, Civil RIghts Groups Say,” EdSource Today.

– “Analysis of Waivers Raises Serious Questions About How States Will Serve Students of Color,” Campaign for High School Equity.

States Vary in Preparedness for Common Core Standards’ Impact on Latinos

Sates have widely varying degrees of preparedness for the implementation of common core standards — and in particular their impact on low-income, Latino and black students.

A new report by the Education Trust, “Uneven at the Start,” identifies the best- and least-prepared states at  phasing in the more rigorous reading and math standards to serve different student populations. The group used performance data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam to predict how states will fare. It examines both improvement and performance of each state on NAEP exams, including in fourth- and eighth- grade reading and math performance, compared against the national average.

With Latino students, Texas and Massachusetts performed best. Florida also performed well.

Meanwhile, Oregon  and California had the weakest record with Hispanic students. The two states are improving slowly when compared against other states, and have performed worse than the national average across several subject areas and age levels. According to the analysis, neither state in any category is above the national average for Hispanics.

The analysis found that no state had above average performance and improvement for Hispanic students across all the subject and grade levels.

“…Instead of just pretending that the same amount of effort will be required everywhere to get children to the new standards, we need to make sure that the lessons from states that have improved the most for all groups of children inform implementation work more broadly and ensure that struggling states have the extra help they will need to build the forward momentum that is already present elsewhere,” said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, in a news release.

The report has charts that break out where each state falls within the spectrum of performance.

Related Links:

– “Uneven at the Start: Differences in State Track Records Foreshadow Challenges and Opportunities for Common Core,” The Education Trust. 

– “New Analyses Examine State Track Records in Performance and Improvement,” The Education Trust.

NAEP Shows Narrowing Hispanic-White Achievement Gap

The achievement gap between Hispanic and white students in math and reading has narrowed since the 1970s, according to data from a national exam.

The National Center for Education Statistics has released new long-term achievement data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam. The results examine the reading and math achievement in 2011-12 of 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds.

Since the 1970s, 9- and 13-year-olds have made significant gains in reading and math — but not 17-year-olds. Since 2008, only 13-year-olds made gains. Since that era, among Hispanics, the only subject with no gains were 9-year-olds in math.

Achievement gaps narrowed because black and Hispanic students made greater gains on exams than white students. For example, the average 9-year-old Hispanic student’s score increased 25 points since 1975, versus a 12-point increase for white students. Gaps narrowed for Hispanic and black students at the 17-year-old age level as well, even though the group as a whole did not make gains.

“There are considerable bright spots, including remarkable improvement among black and Hispanic students, and great strides for girls in mathematics,” David P. Driscoll, the chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, said in a press release.

The NCES also found that a higher percentage of white students reported reading for fun daily than Hispanic or black students.

Related Links:

– “Achievement Gap Narrows on Long-Term NAEP,” Education Week.

– “U.S. Education Gap Narrows Between Whites and MInorities: Report,” Reuters.

– “The Nation’s Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress 2012,” National Center for Education Statistics.

Hispanic Students Improve on Economics Exam

Hispanic students are improving in their understanding of economics, but still lag behind white students, according to the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress in economics taken by high school seniors.

The exam was taken by 11,000 high school seniors in 2012, and the results have been compared with those of students who took the exam in 2006.

Overall, Hispanic students scored higher and a higher percentage performed at or above the “basic” level. The percentage of Hispanic students scoring at or above basic grew from 64% in 2006 to 71% in 2012.

About 26% of Hispanic students scored “proficient” or better, compared with 53% of white high school seniors.

Students were tested in the areas of market economy, national economy and international economy.

Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, believes that improving performance of Hispanic students could have more to do with improving reading and writing skills than their actual comprehension of economics.

Related Links:

– “NAEP Economics Results Reveal Proficiency Woes,” Curriculum Matters Blog, Education Week.

– The Nation’s Report Card: Economics 2012 (National Assessment of Educational Progress)

Latino Test Performance Varies Significantly by State

It’s often said that the zip code a child is born into is a strong predictor of their future academic performance and the quality of education that they will receive. But perhaps the same can be said about the state where a child is born.

The New York Times recently reported on an analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics of the five states with the largest populations, showing the different performance levels of Latino students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam.

Those “mega-states” studied are California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. Th five states enroll more than half of the country’s English language learners, a total of 2.9 million–nearly 1.5 million of whom are in California. They also enroll about 40 percent of the nation’s public school students, or 18.7 million students.

NAEP scores are seen as the best tool by which to compare academic performance across state lines.

One notable headline: California Latino students struggled considerably across the board, while Florida and Texas were strong-performers. While the analysis also shows that Latino students continue to lag white students considerably in performance on the tests (full report here), there was considerable variation in Latino performance between states.

The percentage of Latino eighth-graders performing at the proficient level or above in math in 2011 are below, with Texas leading the nation:

California: 13%, Florida: 22%; Illinois: 19%; New York: 13%; Texas: 31%; Nation: 20%.

And the performance of Latino eighth-graders proficient or higher in reading in 2011, in which Florida and Illinois led the nation:

California: 14%; Florida: 27%; Illinois: 23%; New York: 20%; Texas: 17%; Nation: 18%.

The performance of fourth-graders proficient or higher in math, in which Florida and Texas leading:

California: 17%; Florida: 31%; Illinois: 20%; New York: 20%; Texas: 29%. Nation: 24%.

The performance of  Latino fourth-graders proficient or higher in reading was as follows in 2011, with Florida leading:

California: 12%;  Florida: 30%Illinois: 18%; New York: 20%; Texas: 19%; Nation: 18%.

And here is the performance of Latino fourth-graders proficient or higher in science in 2009, with Texas and Florida leading:

California: 8%; Florida: 23%; Illinois: 10%; New York: 13%; Texas: 16%; Nation: 13%

And the performance of Latino eighth-graders proficient or higher in science, with Texas leading the nation:

California: 11%; Florida: 24%; Illinois: 11%; New York: 12%; Texas: 23%; Nation: 16%.

Jack Buckley, commissioner of the NCES, said there was no “consistent pattern among these states,” The Times reported. And that, “each state seems to have areas where it shines and others where they lag behind its counterparts.”

The analysis includes the data broken out by other racial/ethnic categories and factors such as income and ELL status.

Learn more about the analysis of performance in the top five largest states here.

Related Links:

– “Test Scores of Hispanics Vary Widely Across 5 Most Populous States, Analysis Shows,” The New York Times. 

– Mega-States: An Analysis of Student Performance in the Five Most Heavily Populated States in the Nation. 









Analysis Challenges Calif. School District’s Touted Achievements

The San Jose Unified School District set a lofty goal 11 years ago. The district announced that all students would be required to pass the classes needed to be admitted to California’s public universities.

At first, the majority-Latino school district earned accolades for its seemingly miraculous success. Other districts wanted to emulate San Jose.

But an analysis of data by The Los Angeles Times and The Hechinger Report casts doubt on the district’s much-touted achievements.

The news outlets found that the majority of the district’s students are not qualifying to attend a state university–and that the percentage of students qualifying has barely budged in all the years since the policy change.

In 2000, prior to the program’s implementation, about 40% of students met requirements to enter the University of California or California State university system. By 2011, despite the program’s implementation, only about 40.3% of students qualified.

Even worse, the analysis found that only about one out of five Latino and black students who began high school in 2007 were eligible to apply to state colleges after four years.  (During the 2011-12 school year, about 52% of the students were Latino.)

So how did it come to pass that the district was able to claim so many students were graduating that were qualified to be admitted to college? The article mentions that the number of qualified students was overestimated because the district misreported data by counting seniors who had not yet completed their college-level coursework as having done so.

Two loopholes also played a role. Students could meet requirements by earned just a “D” in their classes, even though universities required a “C.” In addition, students were allowed to transfer to alternative schools with less challenging coursework  if they were struggling in school.

Latino students, in particular, struggled. As a result, many ended up pushed out of the regular high schools and attending less-demanding alternative schools. The story notes that alternative programs enrolled about 50% more Latinos than regular high schools.

“The ethnic imbalance is ironic given that San Jose’s college-prep program grew out of concern that far too many Latino students, the largest group in the district, were not on track for college,” the article notes.

The Contra Costa Times reported that school district officials defended the program.

“We are clearly in a better place than we were,” Superintendent Vincent Matthews told the newspaper. “However, clearly, we still have a long way to go.”

The paper notes that the district places in the middle of the pack among the 11 districts in Santa Clara County, in terms of the percentage of Hispanic graduates meeting requirements for entering state universities. For the class of 2011, the percentage was 26.6%, compared to a high of 44.1% in Palo Alto Unified School District.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is moving toward new standards that will require this year’s freshmen to pass a certain number of college-prep courses with a D or better to graduate, and eventually move toward requiring a C or better for next year’s freshmen. It remains to be seen what sort of impact that may have on the district’s students, and in particular, the Latino majority.

Related Links:

– “L.A. school district’s college-prep push is based on false data,” The Hechinger Report/Los Angeles Times.

– “San Jose Unified defends 40 percent college-preparation rate,” Contra Costa Times.

– San Jose Unified School District

Univision Educates Parents in Spanish About Common Core Standards

A new special report on Univision’s Web site explains to Latino parents in Spanish the significance of the “estándares comunes,” known to English speakers as the Common Core Standards.

In the report, “Ya viene: Elevando los estándares educativos,” or “It’s coming: Elevating the educational standards,” journalist  María Antonieta Collins interviewed Aída Walqui, director of the teacher professional development program with WestEd and an expert on English language learners. The report explains how states are working together to create shared math and English standards.

“Every state has its own standards that signify a good education,” Collins says in the report’s opening (I’m translating this loosely from Spanish to English). “This lack of uniformity in education standards has affected the position of the United States in comparison with other countries and the capacity to compete in the global market.”

Walqui participated in a discussion about the standards with Collins that Univision broke into five parts on its Web site. “What the standards don’t do is say how to teach the standards in the classroom,” Walqui said. “It gives freedom to the schools, school districts and states to use different but parallel ways of teaching the standards. The destination is still the same.”

She said that the majority of ELLs in U.S. schools today–82 percent of ELL primary students and 58 percent of ELL secondary students–are born in the United States. She called it a “crime” that some students arrive in high school still not proficient in English after attending American schools since kindergarten.

“These children speak perfect English in the street and speak perfect English with their friends,” Walqui said. “But when they try to read complex texts, they don’t understand them.”

That’s why the standards for ELLs are being revised, she added. Walqui is part of the “Understanding Language” initiative at Stanford University, which aims to inform educators about the important role of language in the new Common Core Standards. The group has released several papers regarding the standards and how they apply to ELLs.

Thanks to Education Week’s Learning the Language blog for calling this to my attention.

Related Links:

– Understanding Language initiative. Stanford University.

– Common Core State Standards Initiative.

– “Estándares educativos Parte 1: ¿Qué son estándares comunes?” (What are the common core standards?) Univision.

– “Estándares educativos Parte 2 ¿Por qué hay que cambiarlos?” (Why the change?) Univision. 

– “Estándares educativos Parte 3 ¿Qué cambios notará en la educación de sus hijos?” (What changes will you notice in your children’s education?) Univision.

– “Estándares educativos Parte 4: Los estudiantes de inglés como segundo idioma.”  (Students learning English as a second language) Univision.

– “Estándares educativos Parte 5: El rol de los padres.” (The role of parents) Univision. 

Fresno County Uses Pre-K to Turn Schools Around

The national advocacy group Pre-K Now, an arm of the Pew Center on the States, recently released a report highlighting five examples nationally of districts and regions where pre-K has been used to turn around low-performing districts.

One of the examples is Fresno County, California, where 2010 Census data says half the population is Latino. Four years ago, 34 school districts came together under the leadership of county Superintendent Larry Powell to create a Voluntary Preschool Master Plan. The plan expands access to pre-K for four-year-olds, using a curriculum aligned with kindergarten and starting with communities with low-performing elementary schools and a shortage of pre-K programs.

Fresno also is implementing a local Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to foster strong teaching in its pre-K classrooms. QRIS efforts are on the upswing nationally: 19 states already have systems to rate the quality of early learning and care. California’s  system is in the planning stages, and state leaders will be looking to local efforts as they design what the statewide QRIS will look like.

Pre-K Now’s report doesn’t tell us where things stand today in Fresno, so I’m asking you, readers. If any of you are reporters covering Fresno’s schools, have you seen this pre-K initiative making an impact? If you’ve written about it, please send us links. I e-mailed a reporter this week saying I hope this blog can become a place for EWA members to showcase their reporting on the education of Latino students. Let’s start now.