NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More Evidence Texas Schools Delivered

October 27, 2000

Experts continue to criticize the 14-page Rand Corporation study that questioned the improvement of Texas public school students' test scores, noting that it was relatively unsophisticated and based on incomplete data. Furthermore, the study's findings were contradicted by a previous Rand report.

  • In contrast to the brief report by Stephen Klein and others, the previous report, released last July, was an in-depth, comprehensive study by David Grissmer, also a Rand researcher.
  • Among his findings: Texas students ranked high nationally, particularly in fourth grade math.
  • Black fourth graders in Texas made bigger gains than fourth graders in any other state on the math portion of the national test.

Grissmer himself has taken issue with Klein's findings.

As for Klein's contention that Texas students demonstrated greater improvement on the state's own exam than on the leader national test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, analysts note he neglected to provide some vital context.

  • First, it is normal for state tests to show better results than national ones.
  • There are straightforward reasons for this: they are more narrowly designed, they test more basic skills, and they intentionally align themselves to the state's standards and curricula, which national tests do not.
  • Also, state tests provide more incentives, such as grade promotions, for students who do well.
  • However, the fact remains that while scores on the state test increased more than national scores, black and white Texas fourth graders still performed best in the nation, while Hispanic fourth graders placed sixth.

Finally, analysts note, even the Education Trust, a liberal advocacy group, has praised the Texas education system for its improvements in math and writing.

Source: William Bennett and Chester Finn, "The Real Improvement in Texas Schools," New York Times, October 27, 2000.

 

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