Publications & Resources

Closing the Gap? A Comparison of Changes Over Time in White-Black and White-Hispanic Achievement Gaps on State Assessments Versus State NAEP

Jun 2007

Varick Erickson, Andrew Ho, Deborah Holtzman, Andrew Jaciw, Brian Lukoff, Xuejun Shen, Xin Wei and Edward Haertel

When a state test and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are both measuring the same construct, the achievement gaps between subgroups on both tests should be the same. However, if a teacher or school engages in “teaching to the test” then student performance may improve on one test but not on another. We hypothesized that teaching to the test could have consequences for changes in achievement gaps over time because, for a variety of reasons, students in low-achieving schools or classrooms may be more likely to receive instruction narrowly focused on increasing their test scores. Our analysis proceeded by examining (at the state level) gaps between White students (the “reference” group) and either Black or Hispanic students (a “focal” group). The clearest conclusion from our state-by-state analyses of state and NAEP test data is that the pattern of gap changes varies widely both between and within states. Further, gap changes came in a variety of forms, and not all types of gap reduction are equally desirable.

Erickson, V., Ho, A., Holtzman, D., Jaciw, A., Lukoff, B., Shen, X., … Haertel, E. (2007). Closing the gap? A comparison of changes over time in White-Black and WhiteHispanic achievement gaps on state assessments versus state NAEP (CSE Report 721). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).