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

Timothy N. Bond, Kevin Lang

NBER Working Paper No. 19243
Issued in July 2013
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Labor Studies

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.

download in pdf format
   (912 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19243

Published: December 2013, Vol. 95, No. 5, Pages 1468-1479 Posted Online December 20, 2013. (doi:10.1162/REST_a_00370) © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology The Evolution of the Black-White Test Score Gap in Grades K–3: The Fragility of Results Timothy N. Bond Purdue University Kevin Lang Boston University The Review of Economics and Statistics

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Bond and Lang w17960 The Evolution of the Black-White Test Score Gap in Grades K-3: The Fragility of Results
Bond and Lang w19950 The Sad Truth About Happiness Scales
Cascio and Staiger w18038 Knowledge, Tests, and Fadeout in Educational Interventions
Gertler, Heckman, Pinto, Zanolini, Vermeersch, Walker, Chang-Lopez, and Grantham-McGregor w19185 Labor Market Returns to Early Childhood Stimulation: a 20-year Followup to an Experimental Intervention in Jamaica
Satyanath, Voigtländer, and Voth w19201 Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us