Asian American National Seniors Top NAEP Math … AND Reading in 2010

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The NAEP = National Assessment of Education Progress is the yearly federal test that is suppose to track the progress of American reading and math skills in various grades. I think it’s an OK way to compare groups and different years, although I still think it’s a huge mistake to set ANY bar that everybody is supposed to master as that allows the creation of a test where everybody is below “average”.

Here are some highlights from Education Week: “Even within high-scoring states, however, the report shows significant disparities among subgroups of students. White students in Connecticut, for instance, produced an average reading score of 301, while African-American students’ average in that state was 265. …Achievement gaps among subgroups didn’t shrink between 2005 to 2009 in either reading or math, even though all racial and ethnic groups and both males and females turned in higher average math scores than they did in 2005. Progress was more uneven in reading: the only subgroups that made gains in the past four years were white students, males, and Asian-Americans.”

Now going into the tables, what I find that they missed is that like on the SAT, Asian verbal skills have risen. Not only are Asians better in math, for the first time in 2009, Asians lead whites in READING. Unfortunately, wherever the numbers are, they will inevitably be used to promote ridiculous education “reforms” based on race / class / gender equity such as the disastrous “whole language” and “whole math” fads of the 1990s/2000s rather than insuring that everybody masters basic skills. These NEAP “advances” are even suspect because the NAEP have been aligned to promote fuzzy math and reading standards.

Data from tables in the report:

There are individual reports by state, with Massachusetts one of the higher scoring states in math. Scores  were 163 vs 152 for national. By race, Asian scored 176 vs 167 for whites, 137/135  for hispanic / black. The report notes 32 pt black, 30 pt hispanic gap, but not the 9 pt Asian advantage which is small but a still significant 1/3 of the minority under-achievement gap.

The NAEP population is large enough that it can be expected to reflect actual population changes just like a census survey:

Percentage of NAEP by race for each year

Year   1992 1994 1998 2002 2005 2009

white    74   75   72   71   67   61

black    15   13   14   12   13   15

hispanic  7    7   10   10   17   17

asian     3    4    4    5    5    6

As nonhispanic whites approach 61 percent, it should not be a surprise that whites will be less than 50 percent at colleges where Asians can be expected to be double their 6 percent national population or more.

Asians about doubled from 3 to 6 percent since 1992. Hispanics more than doubled from 7 to 17, slightly outnumbering blacks. Whites declined from 74 to 61, blacks and native americans (1 percent) have stayed about the same.

reading results: Asians always lagged whites … until 2009

        92  94  98 *98 *02 *05 *09 

white  297 293 297 297 292 293 296

black  273 265 271 269 267 267 269

hisp   279 270 276 275 273 272 274

asian  290 278 288 287 286 287 298<

nat-am                     279 283

* accomodations (ok to make it easier)

Not surprising that students with higher educated parents had higher scores. Students seem to have more educated parents than adults in general as nearly half graduated from college, only 8 percent have not finished high school.

score pct tested in 12th grade

299 49 Grad from college

287 22 some after high school

276 17 grad high school

269 8 did not finish high school

Now in math, if you actually read the text, you’ll find the rare admission that “the average score for Asian / Pacific Islander students was 14 points higher than for White students”. Normally it is verboten to mention that ANY group does better than the supposedly imperialist = dominant whites, but there you have it. This table shows that everybody scored higher, but the gaps remained about the same, with blacks at about 24, and hispanic at about 24. That 14 point math gap is more than HALF the size of the white black gap. Again why is it politically correct to proclaim that a 24 point gap is absolutely unacceptable and proof of racism that can easily be erased by affirmative action, yet why in the blazes is a 14 point gap for whites completely OK and not worth noting in any newspaper article? Or why is that if an Asian who points this out can be accused of promoting Asian supremacy?

I dare anyone to explain to me how any massive increase of funding for no-explanation mathematics, no-facts science, no-phonics reading, affirmative action, diversity in textbook pictures, and politically correct  perspective on redneck culture is going to help white students catch up with Asians?? Or if any such strategy is obviously a recipe for doom for whites, how it could possibly work for even more disadvantaged ethnic groups??? Has anybody noticed that America’s chosen strategy since the 1960s of legislating equality between blacks and whites has left  BOTH groups eating the dust of whatever immigrant groups of all colors still push their kids to beat the average? What “crazy Asian parent” demands their state department of education to increase education funding, lobby for awards quotas and bitch about not enough Asian faces in textbooks  if their kids bring home a B+?? Why are only Asian students told to practice more piano, study more, harder and get into Harvard or you’ll bring shame to your family legacy, and then white folks complain that Asians get higher test scores? Why do our tax and corporate dollars go to education reformers who come up bold new ideas for African and Hispanic Americans that are completely the opposite of the no-taxes-needed Asian parent’s game plan?

Scores ranked by math
Year    05  09
asian  163 175
white  157 161
nat-am 134 144
hisp   133 138
lack  127 131

Here’s how test scores increase with education. The 14 point Asian gap is about the same as between those with parents with some education after high school and those who graduated from college.

164 grad college

150 after hs

142 grad hs

135 did not finish hs

This chart shows how test scores move up with the amount of math taken. Almost everybody, black ,white, whatever takes starting algebra, which is all you really need for a non-math college degree. In 2009, nearly half of students were in precalculus or calculus which is enough for a technical math/science degree.

score 05 – 09

121   8   5 – alg 1

127 12 10 – geometry

143 41 42 = alg 2/trig

166 21 24 + precalculus

189 18 18 = calculus

See Education Week November 18, 2010 “Seniors’ Reading and Math NAEP Scores on Rise” By Catherine Gewertz

 and the report at

About the Author

MIT electrical engineering computer science graduate has written conservative columns on politics, race / culture, science and education since the 70s in MIT The Tech and various publications in including New Republic and National Review.