Now that Canada's largest school district, Toronto, has taken the bold step of reporting its testing data for racial and economic subgroups, we are able to compare its achievement gaps with the achievement gaps of other large cities that also report achievement data for subgroups.
Let's compare Toronto to Philadelphia and see who has the larger achievement gaps. Let's see how Toronto with it's compassionate and generous Canadian-style social policies compares to Philadelphia with it's backward and stingy U.S.-style social policies.
Better yet, I'm not going to tell you which city is which, see if you can guess from the achievement gaps which I've given as a fraction of a standard deviation.* Negative numbers indicate that the subgroup performed worse than whites; positive numbers indicate that the subgroup performed better than whites.
Black-White Achievement Gap: -0.85
Hispanic-White Achievement Gap: -0.73
Asian-White Achievement Gap: +0.28
Black-White Achievement Gap: -0.73
Hispanic-White Achievement Gap: -0.70
Asian-White Achievement Gap: +0.14
Which city is Philadelphia and which is Toronto?
Bonus Question: What does this analysis suggest for improving results and policies drawn on international comparisons between diverse countries like the U.S. and more racially homogeneous countries like those in Europe and Northeast Asia.
*What I did was to convert the percentile scores reported into z-scores (which is a more accurate way of analyzing normally distributed data) for each subgroup for math and reading combined (sixth grade for Toronto and fifth grade for Philadelphia). Then I calculated the difference between the z-scores of Asian (East), Black, and Hispanic (Latin) subgroup and the white subgroup. A difference of 0.25 is considered to be educationally significant. A difference of 0.75 is considered to be a large difference in the social sciences; most interventions are not capable of remedying an effect size of this magnitude.