2011 NAEP Guide Where to Avoid Being Reincarnated as a Student with a Disability

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

I’m back from SLC, where I had the honor of serving as the opening act to Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett. Getting back to the mad science of exploring the 2011 NAEP, and keeping with a sudden OCD fear that I have developed over the possibility of being reincarnated, I present to you the states you want to avoid and those you want to pray to be born into in the next go-around if you happen to be born as a child with a learning disability, and you would like to learn how to read by the 4th grade.

So, whatever you do, try to load the dice to stay out of Washington DC, Hawaii, South Carolina, Alaska and Arizona if you think you might be coming back as a child with a disability.

Conversely, you’ve hit the relative jackpot if you land in Maryland, Massachusetts, Kentucky,New Jersey or Florida.

Seriously DC? 153?!? A mere 60+ point difference between next door neighbor Maryland?

My Cosmic Awareness/Spidey Sense just told me that you were just thinking “yeah, but hey no fair, because Maryland is far wealthier than DC.”

Except, well, it doesn’t really matter so much in terms of the gap. Below you will see a chart for Free and Reduced Lunch Eligible students with disabilities. The top 5 get shuffled a bit, but there is still an appalling gap between DC and the top performing states.

So as you make your reincarnation plans, just remember to stay away from DC, whereas if you have the misfortune of being born with a disability the chances of being academically warehoused seem to approach a near certainty.

Sadly, DC has plenty of company at the bottom.

9 Responses to 2011 NAEP Guide Where to Avoid Being Reincarnated as a Student with a Disability

  1. Efavorite says:

    Thanks for this analysis. Regarding the disparity between DC and MD, it’s important to know that MD families sometimes move to DC in order to successfully sue the District for private placement of their disabled children, paid for by DC taxes. I don’t know the particulars or how this differs from MD law, but I do know it’s done by showing that DCPS can’t accommodate certain children and therefore owes them a spot at a private school.

    It’s an issue that existed long before Michelle Rhee came to DC and is another example, given the low scores and the siphoning of tax dollars, of how her reforms have not helped.

    By the way, there are plenty of children with disabilities in the regular DC school system. Teachers sometimes only learn about their presence in class when they witness disruptive behavior, which of course disrupts learning for other children and can have repercussions on teachers’ IMPACT scores, if teachers are perceived as not adequately controlling these kids.

    You’d think that knowing about DC’s huge problem with children with special needs, that Rhee and her successor wouldn’t make the claim that DC would soon become the nation’s highest performing school district and that all it would take to raise the scores was an effective teacher in every classroom. You’d also think that education leaders wouldn’t presume that an influx of inexperienced teachers would help raise achievement levels of students who were already so far behind. That was their belief, however, and with the authority granted to them under mayoral control, they acted on it.

  2. matthewladner says:


    Despite the sorry state of DC, I will note that there have been very, very large gains in the district since the early 1990s. Those gains predate Rhee, and continued during her fairly brief tenure. I’ll take a full look at DC scores next week, but it is clear that DC remains a work in progress at best regardless of who is running the show.

    Rhee’s three year tenure as Supe will obviously have had but a limited impact. You can continue to hate on Rhee all you like, but I suspect y’all were there before Rhee (when the District was even worse than it is now) and you are still there now, owning the problems that remain.

    My suggestion is to forget about Rhee and get real about fixing the tragedy that is DCPS.

  3. Efavorite says:

    I was listening and taking you seriously until you said “hate on Rhee” – as if negative but accurate comments about the person (and her successor) who came in to save DCPS can’t be anything but an act of hate.

    “Forget about Rhee?” In your earlier post, you said, “For DC, the 2011 NAEP will constitute the first plausible check on the tenure of Michelle Rhee.” I hope you haven’t changed your mind.

    “The tragedy that is DC?” – after four years of highly touted reform, and huge amounts of money spent. How do you suggest we “get real?” Fire more teachers and principals until we finally get the right mix? More merit pay for teachers in already highly-performing (i.e., high SES) schools? Continuing to lower the evaluation scores of teachers in low-performing (i.e., low SES) schools who work much harder but can’t manage to raise their kids’ scores high enough to keep their “highly effective” rating?

    These are a few of the policies in place since reform started with Rhee and continue with her deputy, Kaya Henderson.

    Henderson, who celebrated the stagnant DC-CAS scores this summer, hesitated to comment on the NAEP scores. What does that mean?

    I hope when you look more closely at the DC scores that you put away the “hate” mentality and focus on the realities of reform and the children who are meant to benefit from it.

  4. matthewladner says:


    I try not to take myself too seriously, so with you on board that makes two of us.

    I’ll look at DC scores when I get the chance (but Mrs. Ladner is out of town leaving the survival of the three Ladner children hanging precariously in the hands of a busy Mr. Ladner).

  5. Efavorite says:

    Ok, Matt — good luck with the kids. I’ll tune in again for the DC scores.

  6. Do you REALLY think Kentucky does so well for kids with learning disabilities? REALLY?

    How about Maryland and New Jersey?

    Go read this much more informed analysis and reconsider:


    Also, how about some corrections for the statistical sampling errors in all of these scores?

    Check out http://pareonline.net/pdf/v10n9.pdf to learn why.

    Also, some of the Standard Errors in these NAEP scores get really big, especially for crosstabbed data like learning disabled students eligible for the free and reduced cost lunch program. That really ‘fuzzes’ up the rankings shown in the graphs in the main blog.

    It is possible to correct for this with the NAEP Data Explorer, but that isn’t happening here.

    I expect better from this blog. Contact me and I’ll be happy to help.

  7. matthewladner says:


    Ease back on the throttle there cowboy. These data were released the day before yesterday. I did check the exclusion rates (Texas and a couple of others are sketchy on that score) but I must confess that I haven’t had cause to go digging into the fine details of special education testing in Kentucky as I, well, don’t happen to live in Kentucky.

    If you’d like to zap me an email to let me know how NAEP data explorer can correct for these things, I can be reached at Ladner55@gmail.com.

  8. Fair request. Separate e-mail on the way.

  9. Nike Zoom Hyperfuse…

    […]2011 NAEP Guide Where to Avoid Being Reincarnated as a Student with a Disability « Jay P. Greene's Blog[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: