Berends, Mark, & Penaloza, Roberto V.
Changes in Families, Schools, and the Test Score Gap
University of Notre Dame
Examination of several family and schol-based explanations for test score differences between African American and White students in mathematics over thirty years.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Russel Sage Foundation
Steady Gains and Stalled Progress: Inequality and the Black-White Test Score Gap, Chapter 2, pp. 66-109.
- When considering achievement proficiency in math and reading, high school students in the United States were scoring about the same in 2004 as they were in the early 1970s.
- This result masks significant progress made by certain groups during this time.
- Between early 1970s and early 1990s, Black students made substantial progress towards closing the test score gap in math and reading.
- Since early 1990s, the math test score gap has increased again, while reading test score gap increased then decreased again in the 2004 assessment.
- Between 1972 and 2004, relative to White students, Black students' individual and family characteristics improved. These changes were large, relating to 62.37% of the change in the test score gap.
- Overall, changes in school-level means corresponded to a 76-81% increase in the Black-White gap.
- The increases in Black students' likelihood of being segregated in high-minority schools corresponded to a 62.50% increase in the Black-White math gap using 1972 info and a 60.57% increase using 2004 info.
- Black students were more likely than White students to attend higher-minority schools in 2004 than 1972, a change which corresponded to an increase in the Black-White math achievement gap
- Changes in the minority composition of high schools did not correspond to a decrease in the Black-White achievement gap.
- Trends in desegregation were a factor in the stalled progress between 1972-2004.
- Even though individual, family, and some school circumstances have changed in ways that benefit Blacks across cohorts, leading to a decrease in the Black-White achievement gap from 1972-2004, significant test score disparities still remain.
Chapter in Book
Academic Achievement, Achievement Gap, African American, Composition, Family, Racial Composition, SES
Method of Analysis:
High School Seniors
Unit of Analysis:
- Used scores from 12th graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress Long-Term Trend data (NAEP-LTT) from 1972-2004.
- Focus on student math achievement and family and school measures that are consistently measured over time.
- Focus on years 1972, 1982, 1992, and 2004.
- Focus on NLS of the high school class of 1971, HSB senior cohort of 1982, LS senior cohort of 1992, and ELS senior cohort of 2004.
- DV: Mathematics achievement
- IV: Race/ethnicity and gender, parents' educational attainment, occupational status, family income, school SES composition, school minority composition, urban locale.