Thursday, September 05, 2013

NAEP scores and demographics galore

Previously, this provincial took a look at the relationship between scholastic performance and student body racial composition for the two most populous counties on the Kansas side of the KCMO metro area. Let's do the same but this time at the national level, replacing individual schools with states and using data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The y-axis shows the percentages of each state's public school student bodies that are either non-Hispanic white or Asian (Ice students). The x-axis shows the amalgamated math and reading section scores from the 8th grade NAEP, administered in 2011:

The correlation between Ice student body percentage and combined math and reading scores is a positive .64 (p = .0000003). That's a pretty strong relationship for the social sciences, though it is not as nearly perfectly rigorous as the two-county correlation of .93 is. That's hardly surprising--the differences between the white population of Massachusetts and the white population of West Virginia are more numerous and more substantial than are the differences between the white populations of Olathe and Overland Park.

The farther below the green linear trend line a state falls, the 'better' it is performing relative to what the racial composition of its student body alone would predict. Conversely, the higher above the trend line a state floats, the 'worse' it is doing relative to what race alone would predict. West Virginia, predictably, looks awful. Evidence of the "Texas miracle" is manifest as well. Older Okie license plates hearken back to a time when average was, well, average, rather than an affront to a thing's dignity and self esteem. They read: Oklahoma is Ok. Indeed it is. Broadly speaking, the South puts on sub-par performances while the mid-Atlantic looks pretty good. Not a shocker to people who've read Albion's Seed. Perhaps less predictably, however, is the fact that with the exception of the sterling state of Massachusetts, New England is rather underwhelming.

Racial classification--being the broad, fuzzy concept that it is--isn't definitive, of course. Other disparate considerations like population density, culture, socioeconomic status, geography, ethnicity--hell, maybe even teaching tactics and classroom size--influence testing results. If race was everything, the correlation would be a perfect 1.0. That said, race is definitely predictive, and consequently it matters quite a bit.

Tangentially, interpreting the entrails of this graph, allow me to audaciously play augur and predict that within a generation, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and, most boldly, Mississippi, will all be irretrievably lost to the GOP and will have become reliably blue states--final nails in the coffin of a moribund Republican party, unless it is somehow able to win over upper Midwest states like Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as compensation in the interim. I'm not putting my money on it.


Jokah Macpherson said...

The Mississippi prediction is pretty bold (or audacious or whatever). Yeah it has a lot of blacks but they reproduce at about the same rate as whites and I didn't think Mississippi had that much Hispanic immigration compared to some states. Of course, I've only been there sporadically in the last decade so it could have changed since high school when I visited my mom's family there several times per year.

DWPittelli said...

This would be a lot clearer if you changed the axes. Usually the dependent variable is measured on the Y-axis (vertically).

Staffan said...

The pattern is even more clear on the global level. PISA 2009 has all icy countries above average and the icier the better. Also, poorer ice countries like Poland and Estonia who have no Muslim immigration are outperforming Sweden that has been very generous in this regard. I guess the lesson here is to stay frosty : )

Al Fin said...

Did you try to fit a different curve to the data? With the axes switched, a logarithmic curve might fit.

sykes.1 said...

The Republican Party will have to become an overtly White Nationalist party if it is to survive. Of course such a party is of necessity a minority party. But the future of politics in the US is racially organized parties and coalition politics.

ironrailsironweights said...

Perhaps less predictably, however, is the fact that with the exception of the sterling state of Massachusetts, New England is rather underwhelming.

How so? Connecticut is also below the green line and has a score not too far behind Massachusetts. It would be pretty much impossible for Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine not to be above the line, given that their populations are so, ahem, icy. Rhode Island is only slightly above the line and in any event has been a curiously under-performing state in many regards for decades.

One seemingly strange thing on the chart is how New Jersey's score is about 25 points higher than New York's even as the two states are comparable in iciness. It's certainly not as if New York's schools are starved for funding. All I can think of is that many parts of Upstate are rather West Virginia-ish in demographic terms.


Anonymous said...

Gay marriage proves that the media can sell anything. We kinda already knew that (Nazi Germany, looking at you) but the Nazis had some time honored biologically hardwired stuff on their side like us vs. them, nationalism, and some traits that northern euros were selected for. So, proof positive that media is king it in its selling of gay marriage which is an oxymoron and goes against rational objective, instinctive, etc., reasoning and emotion and biology.

Okay, so what. Well, here is what. All the blue team needs is a shut out of its opposition to turn on the folks at the bottom. They don't call them vulnerable for nothing. I mean it has to be done sometime. They all know what they are doing is unsustainable, you know what with co2, depleted fisheries, etc. But they can't change their policies till they lock down a monopoly. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Just look at Stalin. The communists were allegedly for the people, well, until they weren't. They were all for sterilizing the mentally retarded until they were challenged and had to back down because they didn't have a monopoly. Obviously abortion is far less morally defensible than just sterilizing retarded people (defined as 80 IQ maybe), but if abortion were illegal black birth rates would double while white and Asian might make it up to replacement rates. They cling to abortion because it is all they have got. It is like the North American miracle, the only place on the planet where blacks have a 2.0 tfr. They figure that immigration isn't a problem because they determine what immigrants' children learn and believe. And so it goes.

Audacious Epigone said...


There are more black students than non-Hispanic white students in Mississippi as of 2011 (without taking private schools into account). The Hispanic portion is small, but if, in a generation, the state is 45%-45% white-black with a residual Hispanic population, it'll vote Democratic. As reliably Republican as Mississippi's whites are, Mississippi's blacks are more reliably Democratic still.


Yeah, I goofed in the previous post but for the sake of consistency wanted to keep it as shown here. I should at least show the same with the axes swapped, I'll try to get to it soon.


Yeah, log doesn't fit well as presented though.


I should've been more precise--New England is about on par with northern central states like Minnesota and Montana. Proximity to Canada helps, but proximity to the northeast doesn't seem to make much of a difference, which is a slight victory for all of the rest of us, who have an inferiority complex about you New Englanders!

Randall Parker said...

What I want to know: How will smarter northern eastern Democrats react as they lose control over the national Democratic Party? Will some defect?

Randall Parker said...

The other thing I wonder about with declining academic performance: how much of the lower job performance of people in their 20s is due to that? How fast will per capita income decline?

Audacious Epigone said...


I've wondered the same when I see articles about the high contemporary unemployment and boomerang rates of 20-somethings. Seems like the included pictures always show whites though--intentionally, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps less predictably, however, is the fact that with the exception of the sterling state of Massachusetts, New England is rather underwhelming.

One interesting fact here is that they look the same (mediocre) on the SAT, but once you correct for their high participation rates using a linear equation, they perform the highest.

(Just download a list of state SAT score with participation rates then work out how much of a dividend the New England states get over what is expected for their participation rate - it's high).

I suspect the same student participation bias is coming in with NAEP tests.