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Test-score data from the past three decades show that achievement scores clearly declined during the 1960 and 1970s, then began to move upward again. During that time, minority students, particularly African Americans, gained relative to non-Hispanic whites. These trends cannot be explained simply. The pervasiveness of the trends — the decline happened at roughly the same time throughout the nation's public and private schools and schools in Canada — raises the possibility of causes larger than educational policies and practices. The current debate over possible causes has important implications for the use of test data in the policy debate.

Originally published in: Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, Winter 1992, pp. 7-11.

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