Kim JS, Sunderman GL. Measuring academic proficiency under the No Child Left Behind Act: Implications for educational equity. Educational Researcher. 2005;34 (8) :3-13. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 place high-poverty schools and racially diverse schools at a dis- advantage because they rely on mean proficiency scores and require all subgroups to meet the same goals for accountability. In this arti- cle, student achievement data from six states are used to highlight differences in the demographic characteristics of schools identified as needing improvement and schools meeting the federal adequate yearly progress requirements. School-level data from Virginia and California are used to illustrate that these differences arise both from the selection bias inherent in using mean proficiency scores and from rules that require students in racially diverse schools to meet multiple performance targets. The authors suggest alternatives for the design of accountability systems that include using multiple mea- sures of student achievement, factoring in student improvement on achievement tests in reading and mathematics, and incorporating state accountability ratings of school performance.

Kim JS. Summer reading and the ethnic achievement gap. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk. 2004;9 (2) :169-188. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A number of studies have shown that low-income and minority students undergo larger summer reading losses than their middle-class and White classmates and that reading books is the only activity that is consistently related to summer learning. The purpose of this study was to explore whether reading summer books improved fall reading proficiency and whether access to books increased the volume of summer reading. The results from the multivariate regression analyses suggest that the effect of reading four to five books on fall reading scores is potentially large enough to prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall. Furthermore, children who reported easy access to books also read more books. The findings have implications for designing school-based summer reading programs and for conducting future experiments that confirm the correlational findings from this study.

Kim JS. The effects of summer vacation on the academic skills of White, Black, Latino, and Asian students. 2001.Abstract

To what extent do summer learning losses depend on ethnicity and socioeconomic status? Prior research indicates that poor students undergo larger summer reading losses than their middle-class counterparts, and all students undergo similar losses in math. To explain this finding, scholars have relied on surveys of summer activities, which show that poor children have fewer opportunities to practice reading than middle-class children. As a result, socioeconomic gaps in reading are heightened during summer vacation, suggesting that differences in family background—not differences in school quality—create achievement inequalities. Using data from a heterogeneous sample that includes all four major ethnic groups, this study reveals one predictable finding and one surprising finding. First, as suggested by prior research, summer reading losses are sensitive to income status. Low- income Asians and Latinos, and to a lesser extent low-income Blacks, lose ground in reading. Middle-income minorities also undergo reading losses, but these losses are smaller than those for low-income students. Second, low-income Blacks and both low- and middle-income Asians enjoy summer math gains, and the gains for middle-income Asians are especially large. This finding challenges the widely accepted research finding that all children’s math skills remain flat or decline during summer vacation. Suggested explanations for both sets of findings focus on home and community circumstances, which influence achievement during summer vacation. Researchers, policymakers, and educators should look outside of schools to understand why achievement gaps form and how to remedy them. This paper concludes with some recommendations for policy and future research.

Brennan RT, Kim JS, Wenz-Gross M, Siperstein GN. The relative equitability of high-stakes testing versus teacher-assigned grades: An analysis of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). Harvard Educational Review. 2001;71 (2) :173-216. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Which is more equitable, teacher-assigned grades or high-stakes tests? Nationwide, there is a growing trend toward the adoption of standardized tests as a means to de- termine promotion and graduation. “High-stakes testing” raises several concerns re- garding the equity of such policies. In this article, the authors examine the question of whether high-stakes tests will mitigate or exacerbate inequities between racial and ethnic minority students and White students, and between female and male stu- dents. Specifically, by comparing student results on the Massachusetts Comprehen- sive Assessment System (MCAS) with teacher-assigned grades, the authors analyze the relative equitability of the two measures across three subject areas — math, Eng- lish, and science. The authors demonstrate that the effects of high-stakes testing pro- grams on outcomes, such as retention and graduation, are different from the results of using grades alone, and that some groups of students who are already faring poorly, such as African Americans and Latinos/Latinas, will do even worse if high- stakes testing programs are used as criteria for promotion and graduation.