The Above-Excellence myth: White Kansan students are just average

“Why do we need to change anything in Kansas schools? They’re among the best in the country.”

But is that really true.

The state does score above the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Here’s a snapshot.

  • Grade 4 math. For Kansas, the score (245) is higher than the national scale score (239); the percentage of students scoring at “proficient or above” (46) is better than the national percentage (38). Chalk one up for Kansas.
  • Grade 8 math: Kansas’s scale score (289) beats the national score (282); the percentage of students scoring “at or above proficient” is higher, too–40 to 33.
  • Grade 4 reading: The Kansas scale score (224) beats the national score (220). Also, a higher percentage of students are proficient in Kansas (72 v. 66).
  • Grade 8 reading: The Kansas scale score (267) beats the national score (262). The percentage of students at or above proficient (33), however, is not statistically different from the national sample.

Still, Kansas outperforms the nation on three of the four tests. Is that great news? Well, maybe. But consider that Kansas has a whiter-than-average population. Could that fact have an effect on the state’s scores?

Let’s look at test scores for only white students.

Mathematics

4th grade

  • Scale score (national/Kansas) 248/251
  • Percentage of students at proficient or above (national/Kansas): 51/55% *
  • * Not a statistically significant difference

8th grade

  • Scale score: 292/294 *
  • Percentage of students at proficient or above: 82/85 *
  • * Not a statistically significant difference

So on mathematics, white students in Kansas don’t score noticeably different from white students nationwide. How about reading?

Reading

4th grade

  • Scale score (national/Kansas): 229/229 *
  • Percentage of students at proficient or above: 41/40*
  • * Not a statistically significant difference

8th grade

  • Scale score (national/Kansas): 271/272 *
  • Percentage of students at proficient or above (39/39)*
  • * Not a statistically significant difference

Conclusion: On neither mathematics nor reading do white students score significantly different from white students in the nation as a whole, suggesting that the performance of Kansas schools is nothing extraordinary. In fact, it is … average.

But what about racial minorities and other groups of students? More on that later.

Advertisements
Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

Trackbacks

%d bloggers like this: