Texas Schools Are Performing Pretty Well. Surprised?

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David Leonhardt:

When the Education Department releases its biennial scorecard of reading and math scores for all 50 states this week, Florida and Texas are likely to look pretty mediocre. In 2013, the last time that scores were released, Florida ranked 30th on the tests, which are given to fourth and eighth graders, and Texas ranked 32nd.

But these raw scores, which receive widespread attention, almost certainly present a misleading picture — and one that gives short shrift to both Florida and Texas. In truth, schools in both states appear to be well above average at teaching their students math and reading. Florida and Texas look worse than they deserve to because they’re educating a more disadvantaged group of students than most states are.

This conclusion is based on a new report by the Urban Institute. That’s fine, but we pretty much knew this already. Texas has large black and Hispanic populations, and they tend to do worse on academic tests than whites—which makes the overall scores for Texas look weak. But if you head over to the NAEP site and look at scores for each state disaggregated by race you can get the real story in about five minutes. The chart below is for 8th grade math, but you can do the same thing for any other test. It’s sorted by black test scores, and as you can see, Texas is 3rd in the nation. (Florida is 15th.) It’s also 3rd in Hispanic scores, and 5th in white scores.

The Urban Institute controls for other factors besides race (poverty, native language, special ed), and that makes Florida look even better than the disaggregated NAEP scores suggest. But Texas looks good no matter what. If education reporters would pay attention to this stuff, it might not come as such a big surprise. Like it or not, Texas has been scoring pretty well for quite a while.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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