Was reading one of my non-education-specific blogs last week, but nonetheless encountered a discussion of the racial achievement gap.  Here’s Ezra Klein’s research assistant:

Thankfully, the Department of Education keeps great, great data (PDF) on this very subject, with individual graphs for each states, on both reading and math tests, showing how the achievement gap between black and white students has changed since 1990.

I found this interesting for two reasons:

1) We tend to think of education as a data-primitive field, and it’s good that – at least at the federal level – we’re seeing advances.  Not sure what this says for the data collection at other federal agencies, though.

2) Last week I talked a bit about the appropriate role of the federal government in education, and it seems to me that keeping and maintaining transparent data on the states’ achievement gaps is a VERY good role.  It’s a great use of the bully pulpit that USED has, which is important to use, given that USED’s voice is disproportionately loud, relative to its share of public education financing.

One Response to Perspective

  1. john thompson says:

    We’re never had a shortage of data on problems, or why previous solutions failed. Its our knowledge of solutions that is sparce.

    That reminds me, and its a part of my continuing concern that Mass Insight today seems to be rejecting the wisdom of The Turnaround Challenge. I was curious about how much of Beach H.S.’s SIG grant, assuming they get it, will be for pay-for performance and the systems required to support it. How much will be left over to address readiness to learn? I clicked on a newspaper account and found the following:

    [but now] you have these examples where schools have had dramatically different results with the same children” after major interventions such as shaking up the staff, says Mr. Cohen.

    Do you have any data on turnarounds keeping the same kids when shaking up staff is the prime intervention? I’m not trying to be cute here, but I’d still like you to address the concern that SIG turnarounds won’t have the time or money for other essential “major interventions,” and that relying on staff changes, PD, and pay for performance will not work any better than previous “light touch” interventions. In fact, they are more likely to fail because they’ve been rushed and lack buy-in.

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