Black-White Test Score Gap

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Brad De Long’s reference to Roland G. Fryer and Steven D. Levitt's recent NBER paper, reminded me of the following article by both of them in Education Next;

“On average, black students typically score one standard deviation below white students on standardized tests—roughly the difference in performance between the average 4th grader and the average 8th grader. Historically, what has come to be known as the black-white test-score gap has emerged before children enter kindergarten and has tended to widen over time.

What are the causes of this persistent gap in achievement? In study after study, scholars have investigated the effects of differences among white and black students in their socioeconomic status, family structure, and neighborhood characteristics and in the quality of their schools. To be sure, socioeconomic status and the trappings of poverty are important factors in explaining racial differences in educational achievement. Yet a substantial gap remains even after these crucial influences are accounted for.

Compared with the results of previous studies, our findings provide reason for optimism. We find smaller achievement gaps, in both the raw and the adjusted scores, for children born in the early 1990s than others had found for earlier birth cohorts. It could well be that, as compared with earlier generations of students, the current cohort of blacks has made real gains relative to whites. Indeed, recent cohorts show smaller raw black-white gaps across multiple data sets—a truly promising sign.

Once students enter school, however, the gap between white and black children grows, even after controlling for observable influences. We speculate that blacks are losing ground relative to whites because they attend lower-quality schools that are less well maintained and managed as indicated by signs of social discord. Though we recognize that we have not provided definitive proof, this is the only hypothesis that receives any empirical support.”

Related Link;

- Acting White by Roland G. Fryer

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It is one of the most puzzling mysteries of the AIDS epidemic: Why did blacks, in little more than a dozen years, become nine times as likely as whites to contract a disease once associated almost exclusively with gay white men?


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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on April 25, 2006 10:49 PM.

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