Monday, April 13, 2015

Black student NAEP scores in Boston and New York City are higher when teachers are white than when they are black

Here are some data relevant to Steve Sailer's recent post entitled "NYT: Something Must be Done About All the Nice White Lady Teachers", where the paper singles out in turn Boston and New York City for having disproportionate shares of white teachers given the non-whiteness of their student bodies. Subject yourself to as much of that as you'd like to there with Steve's thoughts as a palliative.

Here, let's just look at the differences in 8th grade NAEP student performance in each of those cities by the race of teachers students had in their respective 8th grade math and reading classes. For ease of comprehension, NAEP scores are converted into IQ estimates. The scores for both tests are on a 500 point scale, with a standard deviation of 37 on the math assessment and 34 on the reading assessment. In the subsequent table, these are converted into IQ estimates with a mean of 98--corresponding to the national average NAEP scores of 283.62 for math and 266.02 for reading--and a standard deviation of 15. The math and reading scores are weighted equally.

The first table shows the mean IQ scores for students of all races who were instructed by either white or black teachers (sample sizes were too small for Hispanic teachers):

Teacher raceBostonNYC

But that's because white teachers are more likely to get white students! Er, white privileged students, that is--the fact that their white per se has nothing to do with their elevated performance over the black students, er, underprivileged black youths that black teachers end up with.

To a large extent that is correct, but explicitly articulating as much is several shiv twists too many for a mealy-mouthed SWPL to stomach.

Yet if you'll permit me to continue trolling, there's more! The next table shows the mean IQ of black students only by whether their teachers were white or black:

Teacher raceBostonNYC

If we want to deal in culturally marxist terms where we don't take the primary determining factor in student performance--the intelligence of the students themselves--it seems we are forced to conclude that white teachers are not only better instructors on the whole than black teachers are, but that white teachers even do a better job teaching black students than black teachers do. The data are so racist!


Anonymous said...

What if white teachers are more likely to teach blacks from higher income levels? The differences between black performance could be because the smarter blacks are more likely to have white teachers. The real question is whether the blacks who are taught by black teachers would still score as good or better if they were to have a white teacher.

I honestly think that the cohort of black students currently taught by black teachers might do worse with white teachers. Black teachers are going to have an easier time managing a ghetto classroom full of 30 black kids. "Nice white lady teacher" would have a tougher time with that. Students can't learn unless there's order to begin with. My guess is that ghetto blacks would be much better served by a black teacher than a white teacher. Upper income blacks is another story.

Audacious Epigone said...


That's quite plausible. To the extent that there are measurable differences in outcomes by teacher demographics with other variables held constant, I suspect they're marginal. The 'joke' in of the post is to appear to treat an analysis like this as causative since that's what the Cathedral does when it points to disparate impact and the like, as though underrepresentation of NAM teachers somehow has a deleterious effect on students.