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The Black-White Education-Scaled Test-Score Gap in Grades K-7

  • Timothy N. Bond
  • Kevin Lang

We address the ordinality of test scores by rescaling them by the average eventual educational attainment of students with a given test score in a given grade. We show that measurement error in test scores causes this approach to underestimate the black-white test score gap and use an instrumental variables procedure to adjust the gap. While the unadjusted gap grows rapidly in the early school years, particularly in reading, after correction for measurement error, the education-scaled gap is large, exceeds the actual black-white education gap and is roughly constant. Strikingly, the gap in all grades is largely explained by a small number of measures of socioeconomic background. We discuss the interpretation of scales tied to adult outcomes.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19243.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19243
Note: ED LS
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  1. Timothy N. Bond & Kevin Lang, 2013. "The Evolution of the Black-White Test Score Gap in Grades K–3: The Fragility of Results," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1468-1479, December.
  2. Susanne Schennach & James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," 2007 Meeting Papers 973, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," NBER Working Papers 8975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  5. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan, 1998. "Kernel Regression in Empirical Microeconomics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 62-87.
  6. Brian Junker & Lynne Schofield & Lowell Taylor, 2012. "The use of cognitive ability measures as explanatory variables in regression analysis," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-19, December.
  7. Donald Boyd & Hamilton Lankford & Susanna Loeb & James Wyckoff, 2012. "Measuring Test Measurement Error: A General Approach," NBER Working Papers 18010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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