chapter  2
Internal Alignment and External Pressure: High School Responses in Four State Contexts
Pages 31

A main goal of the new accountability systems in the four states we surveyed is increasing quality of education for lower-income rural or inner city students. If this goal is to be realized, high schools that start out “behind” would have to improve their students’ academic performance more than high schools where students are already doing better. States such as Texas claim that they are succeeding in helping low-performing schools catch up, at least in the primary and middle grades. The claim is at least partially supported by National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) score gains in the 1990s. Blacks and Latinos represent a large proportion of low-scoring students in Texas, and in both fourth and eighth grade NAEP math, these students made larger gains than whites. The high percentage of black and Hispanic students in New York also made relative gains on the math NAEP test in the same period, especially in the past four years. But the gains in these two states may have been partly an artifact of excluding more minority students from the test in later years (Carnoy and Loeb 2003). Writing scores on the Kentucky state test increased more in the eastern, lower income counties, largely because writing had not been taught systematically in those schools before the state test was implemented. Yet in Kentucky and Vermont there is no evidence that disadvan taged groups have made relative gains over time in NAEP math or reading scores.