Race and Test Scores

Science, technology, and life.
April 30 2009 10:29 AM

Race and Test Scores

Why categorize and measure students by race? Aren't there better ways to organize the data? "Lower-performing 9- and 13-year-olds make gains," says one section of the NAEP report. "No significant change for 17-year-olds at any performance level," says another. "Reading scores improve for 9-year-old public and private school students over long term," says a third. "Score increases for 17-year-olds whose parents did not finish high school," says a fourth. These tables organize the data by factors that can help us target and adjust educational policy: kids with low scores, kids in public school, kids in high school, kids whose parents didn't graduate. I'd like to see tables for income and spending per pupil, too. But race? Does that category really help? And what message does it send to kids when headlines assert a persistent "racial gap"?

More here .

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.