Low income students show smaller gains within Washington DC’s NAEP test score surge

I remain obsessed with trying to understand the gigantic seven point surge in scores that Washington DC posted on the 2013 NAEP national assessment, which I first reported on Nov. 7, 2013. Last week, on Nov. 15th, I broke the test data down by race and noticed that while black scores did improve, the seven point increase was more influenced by the growing population of white and Hispanics. Both groups, on average, have even higher test scores than blacks do. A blog reader asked me if I looked at socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, NAEP doesn’t have a SES variable, but it does look at which students are low income as measure by whether they qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

Average Fourth Grade Mathematics Scores in Washington DC on the 2013 NAEP

Qualifies for free or reduced price lunch

Doesn’t qualify for free or reduced price lunch

2013

220

261

2011

213

246

change

up 7

up 15

So it’s interesting to see that the lowest income students are not driving the gains as much as the middle class and upper income students are. That jives with what NCES Commissioner Jack Buckley noted nationwide, that the bottom students are not making the same incremental progress that the top students are.

I also broke down the DC results by percentile, but didn’t see the same stark trend. Not sure what to make of this…

Average Fourth Grade Mathematics Scores in Washington DC on the 2013 NAEP by Percentile

10th

25th

50th

75th

90th

2013

184

205

229

252

273

2011

176

199

222

245

267

change

up 8

up 6

up 7

up 7

up 6

Related Stories:

Washington DC and Tennessee post huge gains in math and reading in 2013 while nation shows small improvement

Is gentrification in Washington DC driving the surge in test scores?


POSTED BY Jill Barshay ON November 21, 2013

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Christopher Nelson

Thanks for the response. :) If you weight the basic, proficient, and advanced scores, and compare the same groups, you’ll find that many more students who were not eligible for free or reduced price lunch moved from basic to proficient, proficient to advanced – much more robust growth as well (more than 100% growth at times).

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