Until the 1970s, there were few signs of change in the historic difference of one standard deviation between average ability or achievement test scores of blacks and whites in the United States. From about 1970 to the mid- to late 1980s, there was a substantial convergence of the average achievement test scores of black and white youth; however, from the mid- to late 1980s to 1992, test scores began to diverge again. Although we place the greatest weight on data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the convergence also appeared in other test series. Herrnstein and Murray's highly visible work, The Bell Curve, stands almost alone in minimizing the importance of the convergent trend. We also find a longer-term trend of convergence between the verbal abilities of blacks and whites in data from the General Social Survey (GSS), which covers adult cohorts born since 1909.
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