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Education Working Paper
No. 6  September 2004


The Teachability Index:
Can Disadvantaged Students Learn?

Endnotes

  1. For education spending, see Digest of Education Statistics 2002, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, 2003, table 166; for student achievement, see Jay R. Campbell, Catherine M. Hombo, and John Mazzeo, NAEP 1999, Trends in Academic Progress: Three Decades of Student Performance, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, 2000, figure 1.1; for graduation rates, see Digest of Education Statistics, table 103.
  2. Richard Rothstein, “Does Social Class Matter in School?” New York Times, November 10, 1999.
  3. See the following by Richard Rothstein: “Linking Infant Mortality to Schooling and Stress,” New York Times, February 6, 2002; “An Economic Recovery Will Tell in the Classroom,” New York Times, December 12, 2001; “Seeing Achievement Gains by an Attack on Poverty,” New York Times, March 7, 2001; “Offering Poor an Alternative to Vouchers,” New York Times, October 18, 2000; “The Myth of Public School Failure,” The American Prospect, March 21, 1993; and Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap, Economic Policy Institute and Teachers College, 2004.
  4. Richard Cohen, “Houston’s Disappearing Dropouts,” Washington Post, September 4, 2003.
  5. Alfie Kohn, “Poor Teaching for Poor Students: More Reasons to Boycott the MCAS Tests,” Boston Globe, March 20, 2000.
  6. David C. Berliner and Bruce J. Biddle, The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America’s Public Schools, Perseus Books, 1995, p. 81–86, 216–23.
  7. Rothstein, “The Myth of Public School Failure.”
  8. The only exception is the infant death rate for low birth-weight babies; see below.
  9. See Digest of Education Statistics, table 43. Full-time equivalent enrollment was calculated by adding half the number of part-time enrollees to the number of full-time enrollees, and the rate was calculated by dividing this number by the total population of three- and four-year-olds.
  10. See Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, 2004, table 236.
  11. See The Condition of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, 2003, table 2-1a.
  12. See “Historical Income Tables—Families,” U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, table F-7; available online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/histinc/f07.html.
  13. See “Historical Income Tables—Families,” U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, table F-3; available online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/histinc/f03.html.
  14. Berliner and Biddle, The Manufactured Crisis, p. 219.
  15. Berliner and Biddle, The Manufactured Crisis, p. 216.
  16. Rothstein, “The Myth of Public School Failure.”
  17. Berliner and Biddle, The Manufactured Crisis, p. 220–21.
  18. See “Violent Victimization Rates by Age, 1973–2002,” Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice; available online at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/vagetab.htm.
  19. See “2003 Data from In-School Surveys of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-Grade Students,” Monitoring the Future, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan, table 4; available online at http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/data/03data/pr03t4.pdf.
  20. See “Church Attendance (2), 5 Categories 1970–2002,” National Election Studies; available online at http://www.umich.edu/~nes/nesguide/toptable/tab1b_5b.htm.
  21. See “Annual Geographical Mobility Rates, by Type of Movement: 1947–2003,” U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce; available online at http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/migration/tab-a-1.pdf.
  22. For 1988–2001, see Digest of Education Statistics, table 52; for 1987, see the 2001 edition of the Digest, table 52; for 1986, 1980, and 1976, see the 2000 edition of the Digest, table 53; for 1982–85, see the 1996 edition of the Digest, table 51; for 1981, see the 1995 edition of the Digest, table 51. Preschool children were excluded.
  23. For 1970–78, see “Death Rates for 69 Selected Causes, by 10-Year Age Groups, Race, and Sex: United States, 1968–78,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/mx196878.pdf; for 1979–98, see “Death Rates for 72 Selected Causes, by 10-Year Age Groups, Race, and Sex: United States, 1979–98,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/statab/gm290-98.pdf; for 1999, see “Death Rates by 10-Year Age Groups: United States and Each State, 1999,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/statab/VS00199.TABLE23A.pdf; for 2000, see “Death Rates by 10-Year Age Groups: United States and Each State, 2000,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/statab/VS00100_TABLE23A.pdf; for 2001, see “Death Rates by 10-Year Age Groups: United States and Each State, 2001,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/statab/mortfinal2001_work23R.pdf.
  24. For the percentage of all babies born with low birth weights, see “Low-Birthweight Live Births, According to Mother’s Detailed Race, Hispanic Origin, and Smoking Status: United States, Selected Years 1970–2001,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/tables/2003/03hus012.pdf; for the rate of infant death among low-birth-weight babies, which was used to calculate the percentage of low birth-weight babies that do not suffer infant death, see “Infant Mortality Rates according to Birthweight: United States, Selected Years 1983–2001,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/tables/2003/03hus021.pdf. The infant death rate for low birth-weight babies is only available back to 1983; due to the unusually large number of years for which data were missing, we estimated this figure for years prior to 1983 by taking the percentage change in the death rate for all children under age one in each year (taken from the same data sources we used to measure mortality) and using that as an estimate of the percentage change in the infant death rate for low birth-weight babies.
  25. See “Death Rates for Suicide, according to Sex, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Age: United States, Selected Years 1950–2001,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/tables/2003/03hus046.pdf.
  26. See Digest of Education Statistics, table 52.
  27. Berliner and Biddle, The Manufactured Crisis, p. 81–82; Rothstein, “The Myth of Public School Failure.”
  28. Sheldon Berman et al., “The Rising Costs of Special Education in Massachusetts: Causes and Effects,” in Rethinking Special Education for a New Century, ed. Chester E. Finn, Jr., Andrew J. Rotherham, and Charles R. Hokanson, Jr., Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and Progressive Policy Institute, May 2001.
  29. Digest of Education Statistics, table 52.
  30. See Digest of Education Statistics, table 52.
  31. For childhood poverty rates, see “Historical Poverty Tables,” U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, table 20; available online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/histpov/hstpov20.html; for the material well-being of the poor, see the poverty factor in the Economics Index below.
  32. For example, rising autism diagnoses may be attributable to improved diagnosis of autism rather than to an actual increase in the occurrence of autism itself. Also, growth in the number of students with “other health disorders” may be attributable to more widespread recognition of attention deficit disorders. But the autism and “other health disorders” categories are not nearly large enough to explain the expansion of special education over the last quarter-century; only about one-tenth of the growth in special education enrollment between 1976 and 2000 occurred in those two categories (see Digest of Education Statistics, table 52).
  33. See Jay P. Greene and Greg Forster, “Effects of Funding Incentives on Special Education Enrollment,” Manhattan Institute, December 2002. The study controlled for the presence of high-stakes tests, which some claim cause schools to push low-performing students into special education to get them out of the testing pool; it found no significant difference in the growth of enrollment in special education among states that did or did not have high-stakes tests. This confirms a previous finding by Hanushek and Raymond (see Eric A. Hanushek and Margaret E. Raymond, “Improving Educational Quality: How Best to Evaluate Our Schools?” in Education in the 21st Century: Meeting the Challenges of a Changing World, ed. Yolanda Kodrzycki, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 2003).
  34. Digest of Education Statistics, table 52.
  35. To compute the index for 1970–80, we had to subtract the number of Hispanics from the number of whites (including Hispanics) to determine the number of non-Hispanic whites. We obtained counts for the total population and the total number of white persons (including Hispanics) for 1970–79 from “Preliminary Estimates of the Population of the United States, by Age, Sex, and Race: 1970–1981,” Current Population Report P-25 No. 917, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, and for 1980 from “Population Characteristics: 1900 to 2002,” U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce; available online at http://www.census.gov/statab/hist/HS-02.pdf. We obtained the number of Hispanics in 1970 and 1980 from “United States—Race and Hispanic Origin: 1790 to 1990,” U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce; available online at http://www.census.gov/population/documentation/twps0056/tab01.xls. We then imputed the number of Hispanics for 1971–79 based on the figures for 1970 and 1980. For 1981–89, we obtained counts for the total and non-Hispanic white population from “Historical Annual Time Series of State Population Estimates and Demographic Components of Change 1981 to 1989, by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin,” U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce; available online at http://eire.census.gov/popest/archives/state/st_81asrh.php. For 1990–99, we obtained the non-Hispanic white percentage of the population from “Resident Population Estimates of the United States by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: April 1, 1990 to July 1, 1999, with Short-Term Projection to November 1, 2000,” U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce; available online at http://eire.census.gov/popest/archives/national/nation3/intfile3-1.txt. For 2000–01, we obtained counts for the total and non-Hispanic white population from “National Population Estimates for the 2000s,” U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce; available online at http://eire.census.gov/popest/data/national/asro_detail_1.php.
  36. See “Teenage Childbearing, according to Detailed Race and Hispanic Origin of Mother: United States, Selected Years 1970–2001,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/tables/2003/03hus008.pdf.
  37. See “Living Arrangements of Children Under 18 Years Old: 1960 to Present,” U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce; available online at http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/tabCH-1.pdf.
  38. See Campbell, Hombo, and Mazzeo, NAEP 1999, Trends in Academic Progress, figures B5 and B6. In reading, we used the percentage of students scoring 250 or above; in math, we used the percentage of students scoring 300 or above. We used different cutoff points in order to get as close as possible to the middle of the student achievement spectrum in each subject.
  39. See Digest of Education Statistics, table 103.
  40. NAEP scores were obtained from the NAEP website, http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard. For spending data, see Digest of Education Statistics, table 166.
  41. Preschool enrollment data were obtained from the Basic and School Enrollment Supplement sections of the U.S. Census Current Population Survey for 2001 using the DataFerret program. Language data were obtained from Summary File 3 of the 2000 Census; available online at http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTGeoSearchByListServlet?ds_name=DE C_2000_SF3_U&_lang=en&_ts=106489153432.
  42. Data were obtained from the Basic section of the U.S. Census Current Population Survey for 2001 using the DataFerret program.
  43. See 2001 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, table E4.
  44. Data were obtained from the Supplementary Survey of the 2001 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census; available online at http://www.census.gov/acs/www/Products/Profiles/Single/2001/ACS/index.ht m.
  45. See James A. Fox, “Homicide Victims in the United States,” Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 2001, table S3.
  46. See the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, table B1; available online at http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/nhsda/2k1State/vol1/appB.htm.
  47. Data provided by Peyton Craighill of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
  48. Data were obtained from the Basic and March Supplement sections of the U.S. Census Current Population Survey for 2001 using the DataFerret program.
  49. For disability data, see “Percentage (Based on 2001 Population Estimates) of Children Ages 6–17 Served Under IDEA, Part B, by Disability, During the 2001–02 School Year,” available online at http://www.ideadata.org/tables25th/ar_aa12.xls; for mortality data, see child mortality rates and infant death rates collected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, available online at http://www.aecf.org/cgi-bin/kc.cgi?action=ranking&variable=cdr&year=2001 and http://www.aecf.org/cgi-bin/kc.cgi?action=ranking&variable=imr&year=2001; for the percentage of all births with low birth weights, see Joyce A. Martin et al., “Births: Final Data for 2001,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002, table 46; for the rate of low birth-weight babies surviving, see “Live Births by State of Residence, Race of Mother, and Birthweight; and Infant Deaths, and Infant Mortality Rates by State of Residence, Race of Mother, Birthweight , and Age at Death: United States, 2001 Period Data,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/Link01wk33.pdf; for the number of suicides among children ages 15 to 19 in 2000, see “Deaths from 358 Selected Causes, by 5-Year Age Groups, Race, and Sex: U.S. and Each State, 2000,” National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/datawh/statab/unpubd/mortabs/gmwkiii10.htm; the number of children ages 15 to 19 in 2000 (for calculating the suicide rate), the total population, and the non-Hispanic white population (for calculating the Race Index) were obtained from Summary File 1 of the U.S. Census, available online at http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTGeoSearchByListServlet?ds_name=DE C_2000_SF1_U&_lang=en&_ts=106492080900.
  50. See Martin, “Births,” table 10.
  51. Data were obtained from Summary File 1 of the U.S. Census, available online at http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTGeoSearchByListServlet?ds_name=DE C_2000_SF1_U&_lang=en&_ts=106492080900.
  52. See Jay P. Greene and Greg Forster, “Public High School Graduation and College Readiness Rates in the United States,” Manhattan Institute, September 2003.
  53. Spending per pupil in each state was determined by dividing the total amount of K-12 spending in 2000–01 by student enrollment. For total spending data, see Frank Johnson, “Statistics in Brief: Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2000–01,” report 2003-362, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, 2003; for enrollment data, see Digest of Education Statistics, table 37.
  54. We calculated the predicted NAEP achievement levels for the states by performing two regression analyses (one for math and one for reading) with NAEP achievement levels as the dependent variable and state-by-state Teachability Index levels as the independent variable.
  55. See Jay P. Greene, “2001 Education Freedom Index,” Manhattan Institute, January 2002.
  56. See Lawrence S. Braden et al., “The State of State Standards 2000,” Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, January 15, 2000, appendix G, available online at http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/publication/publication.cfm?id=24 (we tallied the number of “yes” entries in the table’s five columns to get a five-point index for each state); “Quality Counts 2004,” Education Week, January 8, 2004, Standards and Accountability state data table, available online at http://www.edweek.org/qc/reports/standacct-t1.cfm (we used each state’s numerical grade); Martin Carnoy and Susanna Loeb, “Does External Accountability Affect Student Outcomes? A Cross-State Analysis,” Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, winter 2002 (we used the authors’ five-point index); and Audrey L. Amrein and David C. Berliner, “An Analysis of Some Unintended and Negative Consequences of High-Stakes Testing,” Education Policy Studies Laboratory, Arizona State University, December 2002 (we used the authors’ six-point index, attributing a value of zero to states not included by the authors). We standardized each index by subtracting its average value from the value for each state and then dividing by the standard deviation.
  57. COLA factors were obtained from the Missouri Economic and Research Information Center, based on data from the American Chamber of Commerce Research Organization; they are available online at http://www.ded.mo.gov/business/researchandplanning/indicators/cost_of_living /index.shtml. We used the factors for the third quarter of 2003. Data were not available for Delaware, Maine, and Rhode Island.

 


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WHAT THE PRESS SAID

SUMMARY:
Student “teachability”—the advantages and disadvantages that students bring to school—is often offered as an excuse for educational failure. Many claim that students are less teachable than they used to be, and that reforms cannot meaningfully improve student achievement due to problems like poverty and social dysfunction. This study measures student teachability by examining sixteen key social factors that affect learning.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Executive Summary

About the Authors

Acknowledgements

About Education Working Papers

Introduction

Method

Results

Conclusion

Endnotes

Appendix

Table 1: The Teachability Index

Figure 1a: The Teachability Index

Figure 1b: Component Indexes

Figure 1c: Teachability, Spending, and Achievement

Table 2: The Readiness Index

Figure 2: The Readiness Index

Table 3: The Economics Index

Figure 3: The Economics Index

Table 4: The Community Index

Figure 4: The Community Index

Table 5: The Health Index

Figure 5: The Health Index

Table 6: The Race Index

Figure 6: The Race Index

Table 7: The Family Index

Figure 7: The Family Index

Table 8: Teachability by State in 2001

Figure 8: Ranking of States by Teachability in 2001

Table 9: Validity of the Teachability Index

Table 10: The School Performance Index for 2001

Figure 10: Ranking of States by School Performance Index in 2001

Table 11: The Effect of School Choice and Accountability on School Performance

Table 12: The School Efficiency Index for 2001

Figure 12: Ranking of States by School Efficiency in 2001

Table 13: The Adjusted School Efficiency Index for 2001

Figure 13: Ranking of States by Adjusted School Efficiency in 2001

 


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