How Other Factors Relate to Average Score Gaps

Performance differences between students of various backgrounds could be the result of numerous and complex factors. Achievement gaps as reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) typically compare the performance of specific student groups—such as White–Black, White–Hispanic, and Asian–White score gaps—use a single factor, in this case race/ethnicity, to differentiate average scores between student groups. However, factors other than race/ethnicity can help explain the performance difference that may be observed between select racial/ethnic groups. The tool below can help users explore these other factors.

The tool uses 2019 NAEP reading data to allow users to see how average score gaps between White–Black, White–Hispanic, and Asian–White students change when additional factors that may relate to student performance are considered. Users can select a grade and deselect variables/clusters of variables to see results. Please note that the student group with a higher average score is listed first in the score gap label in this tool. For example, Asian–White score gap indicates that Asian students scored higher than their White peers.

The factors include gender, socioeconomic status, and students' attitudes toward learning, among others. Score gaps shown in the tool are calculated as follows: We regressed scale score on race/ethnicity, excluding "White" as the reference group. The regression coefficient associated with each race/ethnicity variable represents the difference between students of that race/ethnicity and White students.

The unadjusted scores are represented by the blue boxes in the graphic, while the adjusted scores are represented by the gold circles. The lines in the graphic represent the distance on the scale between the adjusted and unadjusted scores. If there is little or no difference, the blue boxes and gold circles will be on top of one another. An asterisk indicates that the score difference between the two racial/ethnic groups is statistically significant. Additionally, users can see whether the adjusted score gap is different from the unadjusted score gap by choosing the "results with confidence intervals" option. When the confidence intervals for the adjusted and unadjusted gaps do not overlap, the differences between the gaps are statistically significant.

The analyses shown in the tool are exploratory. The tool allows users to examine whether there are associations between select factors or variables collected by NAEP and the White–Black, White–Hispanic, and Asian–White average student score differences. The tool does not assess whether the relationship between factors and these score differences are causal (i.e., this analysis does not and cannot test whether the select factor causes differential achievement among the student racial/ethnic groups explored here). In addition, the analysis does not assess the effectiveness of any specific policy addressing racial/ethnic student achievement gaps. Finally, while NAEP collects data to help users contextualize student group scores, such as socioeconomic status proxy measures like parental educational levels and participation in National School Lunch Program, NAEP is limited in the kind of data it can collect. Therefore, data representing factors or clusters of factors here are not meant to claim that they fully capture the construct under consideration (e.g., socioeconomic status of student groups or students' attitudes toward learning).

Additional NAEP subjects, as well as selection variables, will be added to the Racial/Ethnic Achievement Gap tool in the coming months. Users can also run their own regression analyses using the NAEP Data Explorer.

Unadjusted and adjusted score gaps between selected racial/ethnic groups


Indicates the average score difference between the two selected student groups is statistically significant (p < .05).

NOTE: Unadjusted score gap refers to the difference between the average scores of two groups of students. Adjusted score gap refers to the estimated score gap once regression analysis calculates the influence of the variables selected. For additional information about the analyses in the tool, see "Technical notes."

NOTE: Not all apparent differences between estimates are statistically significant. The NAEP reading scale ranges from 0 to 500. The average reading scores for students at grades 4, 8, and 12 are available in the Nation's Report Card. Please see the NAEP Glossary of Terms for terminology definitions.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2019 Reading Assessment.