Black Reading Scores Plummet in 2019 Testing

The latest NAEP scores are out for 4th and 8th graders. For 8th graders, they show that the average reading score dropped three points and the average math score dropped one point over the past two years. Obviously that’s not good news, but these are small changes on a single test and it’s hard to draw any longer-term conclusions from them. They certainly don’t represent a “student achievement crisis,” as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos put it.

Besides, if I’ve taught you anything, it’s this: at a minimum, you have to decompose the scores by race to see what’s really going on. Often it turns out that—

Yikes! The 50th percentile is basically the median score, and among African American 8th graders it dropped five points. That’s roughly half a grade level. And the results were even worse among low performers.

I don’t have any special explanation for this, but that’s a big drop. I can’t say whether this counts as a “crisis,” but considering the already grim test gap between white and black students it sure comes close to one. Let’s see if Betsy DeVos gives it the attention it deserves.

POSTSCRIPT: For the record, 8th grade math scores were unchanged for all races and all performance levels.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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