Tag Archives: Achievement Gap

Baylor University study: Unresponsive state policymakers make the racial achievement gap worse

9 Jul

Moi wrote in the article, Education funding lawsuits against states on the rise:
Moi has often said in posts at the blog that the next great civil rights struggle will involve access for ALL children to a good basic education. Sabra Bireda has written a report from the Center for American Progress, Funding Education Equitably

The old axiom that the rich get richer certainly plays out in the American classroom—often to the detriment of achieving academic success. Data on intradistrict funding inequities in many large school districts confirm what most would guess—high-poverty schools actually receive less money per pupil than more affluent schools.1 These funding inequities have real repercussions for the quality of education offered at high-poverty schools and a district’s ability to overcome the achievement gap between groups of students defined by family income or ethnicity.
The source of these funding inequities is not a deliberate scheme designed to steer more state and local funds to affluent schools. Rather it is often the result of an accumulation of higher-paid, more senior teachers working in low-poverty schools. High-poverty schools typically employ less-experienced, lower-paid teachers, thereby drawing down less of the district’s funds. The imbalance in funding created by this situation can total hundreds of thousands of dollars school by school.2 Archaic budgeting practices that track positions instead of actual school expenditures only serve to reinforce this inequity.
Aside from concerns about the inequitable distribution of veteran and novice teachers across schools, students attending high-poverty schools actually need more funding to achieve at the level of their wealthier counterparts.3 The federal government recognizes this fact with its allocation of federal funds under Title
I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. One condition of receiving Title I funds is that districts allocate state and local funds equitably to non-Title I and Title I schools before spending federal monies. The “comparability” provision was implemented to ensure that schools spend Title I funds on services meant to enhance educational opportunities for students at high-poverty schools and not to make up for unfair shares of state and local resources stemming from conventional management and budgeting practices.
The comparability provision should be a strong tool to correct the funding disparities created by an inequitable distribution of higher- and lower-paid teachers. But for years, districts have been able to evade true comparability between schools due to a loophole in the law. The loophole allows districts to demonstrate compliance without comparing the amount of actual dollars spent at each school. Instead, districts can show comparability by placing equal numbers of teachers, on a per pupil basis, at high- and low-poverty schools.
If a district does compare per-pupil expenditures, for example, the district can use a district-average teacher salary in calculations in place of actual salaries in school budgets. This common budgeting practice masks significant funding inequities. Under the current provision, districts can continue to receive Title I money even as their most high-poverty schools are deprived of fair shares of local and state funds.

The issues brought out by Bireda’s report are just one of a host of reasons why there must be equitable education funding. https://drwilda.com/2012/01/25/education-funding-lawsuits-against-states-on-the-rise/
Julia Lawrence writes in the Education News article, Study: Race Plays Role in Political Response to Falling Grad Rates:

Analysis by Dr. Patrick Flavin of Baylor University and Michael Hartney of the University of Notre Dame concludes that state education authorities and policymakers tend to be more responsive to falling graduation rates among white students and less so to falling African-American graduation rates. As Ronald Roach of Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports, the authors find that a fall in the percentage of white students who earn a high school diploma draws increased attention to instructional quality compared to when African-American graduation rates decline.
After examining the reasons for the disparity, Flavin, who is an assistant professor of political science, and Hartney who is a political science Ph.D. candidate, conclude that the persistent achievement gap between white and African-American students stems from political rather than economic reasons.

Here is the press release from Baylor University about The Political Foundations of the Black–White Education Achievement Gap:

Black-white Education Achievement Gap Is Worsened by Unresponsive State Policymakers, Baylor Study Shows

June 19, 2013
Follow us on Twitter:@BaylorUMediaCom
Contact: Terry Goodrich,(254) 710-3321
WACO, Texas (June 20, 2013) — State policymakers’ attention to teacher quality — an issue education research shows is essential to improving schooling outcomes for racial minority students — is highly responsive to low graduation rates among white students, but not to low graduation rates among black students, according to a Baylor University study.
The findings are evidence that “the persisting achievement gap between white and black students has distinctively political foundations,” the researchers wrote.
The article, entitled “The Politic Foundations of the Black-White Education Achievement Gap,” is published in the journal American Politics Research. It is co-authored by Patrick Flavin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, and Michael Hartney, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Notre Dame.
The findings come nearly 60 years after Brown vs. the Board of Education, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case aimed at promoting educational equality by declaring unconstitutional state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students.
But the researchers’ findings show that inequality persists when it comes to education reform. “Instead of promoting equality of opportunity, America’s system of K-12 education — which relies heavily on state and local control — may worsen political inequalities,” the researchers wrote.
Surprisingly, even in states in which policymakers were more racially balanced, legislators were less responsive about closing the education gap, Flavin said.
“You might expect that in states that have more black students, government would be more attentive, but we didn’t find that,” Flavin said. “Whether analyzed at the policymaking level or the level of individual citizens’ political attitudes, white students receive far more attention and subsequent response compared to African-American students.”
He suggested a reason why black policymakers might be less responsive about working toward teacher quality than might be expected.
For the research, racial disparities in student outcomes were measured using National Assessment of Education Progress scores as well as high school graduation rates. While there was a period of dramatic improvement after the Brown v. Board decision up until early 1990s, the gap between the two racial groups has stagnated or even slightly increased since the early 1990s, according to the study.
To analyze state policymaking, the researchers measured 12 state-level reform policies tracked by the National Council on Teacher Quality. Those policies include such actions as paying teachers more for teaching in high-poverty schools (so-called “combat pay”) and tying teacher pay to student achievement.
To analyze citizens’ opinions on education, Flavin and Hartney used a variety of nationally representative public opinion polls and found that white citizens “only seem to be alarmed when white students’ performance drops,” Flavin said.
Whites are less likely to think an education gap exists or to see it as a priority compared to blacks. Whites also are less likely to think that the government has a responsibility to close a gap, the researchers found.
“It’s when white students are doing poorly that you start seeing state legislators pass more controversial bills like linking teacher pay and evaluations to student test scores,” Flavin said.
The study concludes by noting that the most recent and widespread efforts to address educational inequality have come not from state policymakers but rather from federal ones.
Those included the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, which required states to document and report student test score data by racial and ethnic subgroups; and more recently, the “Race to the Top,” a competitive grant program that makes willingness to decrease achievement gaps, particularly to increase minority students’ access to highly effective teachers, a key factor for states to be awarded federal money.
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 26 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.


The Political Foundations of the Black–White Education Achievement Gap
1.Michael T. Hartney, PhD Candidate mhartney@nd.edu
2.Patrick Flavin
More than 50 years after Brown v. Board, African American students continue to trail their White peers on a variety of important educational indicators. In this article, we investigate the political foundations of the racial “achievement gap” in American education. Using variation in high school graduation rates across the states, we first assess whether state policymakers are attentive to the educational needs of struggling African American students. We find evidence that state policymaking attention to teacher quality—an issue education research shows is essential to improving schooling outcomes for racial minority students—is highly responsive to low graduation rates among White students, but bears no relationship to low graduation rates among African American students. We then probe a possible mechanism behind this unequal responsiveness by examining the factors that motivate White public opinion about education reform and find racial influences there as well. Taken together, we uncover evidence that the persisting achievement gap between White and African American students has distinctively political foundations.
Published online before print May 6, 2013, doi: 10.1177/1532673X13482967 American Politics Research May 6, 2013 1532673X13482967
1.» AbstractFree
2.Full Text (PDF)
Often, schools are segregated by both race and class. Class identification is very important in education because of class and peer support for education achievement and the value placed on education by social class groups.

The role economic class plays in college success                                             https://drwilda.com/2012/12/22/the-role-economic-class-plays-in-college-success/
The ‘school-to-prison pipeline’    https://drwilda.com/2012/11/27/the-school-to-prison-pipeline/
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Closing the achievement gap: What is AVID college preparation?

16 Oct

Moi wrote in Many NOT ready for higher education:

Whether or not students choose college or vocational training at the end of their high school career, our goal as a society should be that children should be “college ready.” David T. Conley writes in the ASCD article, What Makes a Student College Ready? http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct08/vol66/num02/What-Makes-a-Student-College-Ready%C2%A2.aspxhttps://drwilda.com/2012/10/06/many-not-ready-for-higher-education/

One program which is helping many students overcome the achievement gap is Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID).

Jay Mathews reports in the Washington Post article, Reforming a nation of bad note-takers:

But I didn’t know what I was doing. No one ever showed me how best to break down a lecture or book. This is common. Most high school and college students write what seems important but are rarely satisfied with the result.

It never occurred to me what I had missed until I encountered a college readiness program called Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) that is getting rave reviews from teachers. One of its most radical and effective tactics is teaching students the neglected skill of taking notes.

Visiting an AVID class, I realized how much time and energy I had wasted not learning to do this right. Teachers new to AVID have a similar reaction, because our education system and our education schools have not made note-taking a priority.

Fairfax County social studies teacher Eric Welch first tasted the power of thoughtful summarizing at a 2005 AVID summer training on teaching what are called Cornell notes. “I saw that this fed into so many different aspects of learning,” he said. Seven years later, he is the AVID coordinator for J.E.B. Stuart High School, which has become one of the highest-achieving schools in the country with a majority of students from low-income families.

AVID began in 1980 with an English teacher, Mary Catherine Swanson, who was upset that her suburban San Diego school was doing so little to help low-performing students bused in from poor neighborhoods. Her mix of multi-subject tutoring and instruction in note-taking, time management and critical thinking began with 32 students. AVID now has 425,000 students in 48 states, the District and 16 territories and foreign countries. There are AVID programs in Alexandria and in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Fairfax, Loudoun, Anne Arundel and Charles counties.

The note-taking system taught by AVID was developed by Cornell University education professor Walter Pauk in 1949. The student divides a sheet of note paper into two columns, the one on the right twice as wide as the one on the left. The student adds a horizontal line about two inches from the bottom of the page.

The student take notes in the right column, using a number of symbols and abbreviations. Questions and key words go in the left column. Afterward, the student reviews the notes, revises and adds questions and a brief summary at the bottom of the page.

The process deepens learning and augments review, but it takes practice and perseverance, qualities not common among the middle school and younger high school students in introductory AVID classes. AVID students have just one class a day with their AVID teacher. The rigor of the rest of the day depends on how much their other teachers — not all of them AVID-trained — reinforce AVID values. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/class-struggle/post/reforming-a-nation-of-bad-note-takers/2012/10/14/13327bfc-1427-11e2-ba83-a7a396e6b2a7_blog.html

The What Works Clearinghouse defines AVID:

According to What Works Clearinghouse, AVID is:

Program Description1

AVID2 is a college-readiness program whose primary goal is to prepare middle and high school students for enrollment in four-year colleges through increased access to and support in advanced courses. The program, which focuses on underserved, middle-achieving students (defined as students earning B, C, and even D grades), places students in college preparatory classes (e.g., honors and Advancement Placement classes) while providing academic support through a daily elective period and ongoing tutorials. http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/reports/adolescent_literacy/avid/index.asp

Here is a summary of the research about AVID:


Since 1980, AVID has been closely studied by numerous research teams and individuals. In addition to our own data collection (see the Data & Results page), AVID’s success has been demonstrated by numerous third-party studies. In fact, the quality of our proof is so high, that AVID was one of eleven organizations to receive the highest praise for outstanding rigorous research by Building Engineering and Science Talent in an April 2004 report to Congress. If you know of a research article in the print media or on the web that you would like to share, please contact us. If you have questions or comments about our research, please contact Director of Research & Evaluation, Dr. Dennis Johnston at djohnston@avidcenter.org.

The AVID Center has organized the research section of our website so that is useful for clients, the media, and the public. We recommend that you begin your tour by viewing two research documents that summarize key findings:

AVID Research Overview A summary presentation of AVID’s research.
Review of AVID Research A summary and key findings of representative research articles on AVID.

For additional research, view the:

AVID and GEAR UP page
Schoolwide/Districtwide page
AVID’s Electronic Archival Guide

Quick links for this page:

Highlights from AVID Graduate Research:

  • AVID sends one third more students to 4-year colleges than the local and national average.
  • African American AVID students, whether they participate in AVID for one or three years, are enrolling in college at rates which are considerably higher than the local and national average.
  • Students who participate in AVID enroll more often than students who don’t participate, and the longer students enroll in AVID, the better is their college enrollment record.
  • AVID students are staying in college once they enroll; 89% of those who started are in college two years later.
  • In short, the capital that students bring with them into the program does not seem to be as important as the capital that the students accrue while they are in the program.
  • More than twice the percentage of students with two years of middle school AVID took three or more AP classes than those with only one year or no AVID experience in middle school.

Full Studies:

“The Impact of Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) on Mexican American Students Enrolled in a Four-year University.” Mendiola, I.D., Watt, K. M., Huerta, J. Journal of Hispanics in Higher Education. (In Press.) The purpose of this study was to investigate the higher educational progress of Mexican American students who participated in AVID

“The Magnificent Eight: AVID Best Practices Study.” Larry F. Guthrie, Grace Pung Guthrie. Center for Research, Evaluation and Training in Education. February 2002. This study investigates how closely eight California AVID Demonstration schools, generally considered to be representative of mature AVID programs, follow the AVID implementation model. The researchers also discuss whether or not all of the eleven AVID essentials are requisite, and propose several additional essentials.

“Constructing School Success: The Consequences of Untracking Low-Achieving Students.” Hugh Mehan, I. Villanueva, L. Hubbard, A. Lintz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. This book presents an in-depth picture of AVID within the context of tracking and “untracking” students based on perceived academic ability. It shows that AVID succeeds in placing previously low-track students on the college track. Mehan, et al., also published a follow-up piece on AVID, in 1998: “Scaling up an Untracking Program: A Co-Constructed Process.” L. Hubbard and H. Mehan. JESPAR 4(1), 83-100.

Impact at the High School Level

Highlights from AVID High School Studies:

  • The AVID, AVID/GEAR UP, and GEAR UP groups raised their anticipations level by increasing their level of satisfaction from Associate’s to Bachelor’s over the 2-year period.
  • Students who felt nurtured stayed in AVID; personal bonds with the AVID teachers were key to continuing in the program for four years.
  • The family-like atmosphere of AVID was important to students’ morale, self-esteem and determination.
  • While not statistically significant, higher aspirations and college knowledge were found among AVID and GEAR UP students.
  • AVID high schools improved their accountability ratings as measured by the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills and dropout rates, over the 4-year study period.

There are links to more research at http://www.avid.org/abo_research.html

K-12 education must not only prepare students by teaching basic skills, but they must prepare students for training after high school, either college or vocational. There should not only be a solid education foundation established in K-12, but there must be more accurate evaluation of whether individual students are “college ready.”


What the ACT college readiness assessment means                             https://drwilda.com/2012/08/25/what-the-act-college-readiness-assessment-means/

Study: What skills are needed for ’21st-century learning?’                       https://drwilda.com/2012/07/11/study-what-skills-are-needed-for-21st-century-learning/

ACT to assess college readiness for 3rd-10th Grades                               https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/act-to-assess-college-readiness-for-3rd-10th-grades/

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Study: The plight of African-American boys in Oakland, California

27 May

Absenteeism is a huge problem for many children who are not successful in school. In School Absenteeism: Absent from the classroom leads to absence from participation in this society, moi said:

Education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process.


Katy Murphy of the Oakland Tribune writes in the article, Report reveals challenges facing African American boys in Oakland school:

– A series of detailed reports released Tuesday by the Urban Strategies Council revealed some stark statistics on how black boys are faring in the Oakland school district and in some of its schools in particular.

After analyzing rates of chronic absenteeism, out-of-school suspension, grade-level retention and standardized test scores from 2010-11, researchers concluded that as early as elementary school, barely more than half of the district’s black boys were solidly on track to earn a high school diploma.

By middle school, using grades instead of test scores, that estimate had dropped to 33 percent.

Urban Strategies CEO Junious Williams said he hoped the analysis — which also includes schools with favorable statistics — will lead to real changes in the experience of black youths in the city’s public schools.

“People have considered these to be so intractable, the problems of inequitable outcomes, that we’ve all kind of gotten a free ticket on that one,” Williams said.

The disproportionately poor outcomes of Oakland’s African-American students — and in particular, its boys — has been a long-standing challenge in the school district. Superintendent Tony Smith in 2010 used private funding to create a small office, African American Male Achievement, to address them. The reports, produced in partnership with the Oakland school district, underscored the degree of the challenge.

One report found that 20 percent of Oakland’s black male students missed at least 10 percent of the school year, compared to 12 percent of all students. Another found that 33 percent of the district’s African-American middle school boys were suspended from school at least once in 2010-11.


Many urban areas are facing the problem of making sure African-American boys finish school.

Here are the demographics of Oakland, CA:

One race






Black or African American



American Indian and Alaska Native






Asian indian


















Other Asian



Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander



Native Hawaiian



Guamanian or Chamorro






Other Pacific Islander



Some other race



Two or more races



Hispanic or Latino and race
Total Population



Hispanic or Latino(of any race)






Puerto Rican






Other Hispanic or Latino



Not Hispanic or Latino




Urban Strategies has information at their site about strategies for achievement:

The African American Male Achievement Initiative focuses on seven key goals that reflect the massive disparities faced by young Black males in Oakland. For an analysis of why these goals matter to our students read this post.


Goal statement: The disparity data for African American males in the city of Oakland will show a significant reduction in the gap between them and their White male peers.

Baseline Measures:

28% of African American male students were proficient or higher on the English Language Arts CST in 2009-10, compared to 78% of White male students (a 50 percentage-point gap).

30% of African American males were proficient or higher on the Math CST in 2009-10, compared to 76% of White males (a 46 percentage-point gap).

Proposed Targets:

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, 90% of African American males are proficient or higher on the English Language Arts CST.

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, 90% of African American male are proficient or higher on the Math CST.

By the end of the 2014-15 school year, the gap between African American and White males has been eliminated.


Goal statement: By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the graduation rate for African American males will be double what is it in June 2010.

Baseline Measure:

In June 2009, the graduation rate for African American males was 49%. The graduation rate equals the number of graduates divided by graduates plus dropouts in grades 9-12 (National Center for Education Statistics formula.)

Proposed Target:

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the graduation rate for African American males will be 98%. The full alignment of OUSD graduation requirements with the A-G standards for the class of 2014-15 is likely to make it more difficult to reach this already ambitious target.


Goal statement: By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the gap in fourth-grade literacy between African Ameican boys and others will not exist.

Baseline Measure:

In the 2009-10 school year, 42% of African American male 4th graders were proficient or higher on the English Language Arts CST, compared to 55% of OUSD 4th graders overall and 80% of White male students (gaps of 13 and 38 percentage points, respectively).

Proposed Target:

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, 90% of African American male 4th graders are proficient or higher on English Language Arts CST.

By the end of the 2014-15 school year, the gap between African American male 4th graders and OUSD 4th graders overall and between African American males and White males has been eliminated.


Goal statement: Suspension rates of African American males will not show any significant disproportion.

Baseline Measure:

In the 2009-10 school year, 18% of African American male students were suspended once or more, compared to 8% of students district wide and 3% of White male students.

Proposed Target:

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, no more than 5% of African American male students will be suspended one or more times, assuming an overall district-wide goal of no more than 3% of students suspended once or more.


Goal Statement: Chronic absenteeism (absence for 10% or more of school days) will be reduced by 75% for African American males.

Baseline Measure:

23% of African American male were chronically absent in 2009-10.

Proposed Target:

By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, no more than 6% of African American male will be chronically absent.


Goal Statement: By the end of the 2014-2015 school year, middle school academic performance of African American males will be on par for district averages for GPA, community services and school holding power.

Baseline Measures:

In 2010-11, 45% of African American boys in grades six, seven, and eight did not display any warning signs of risk for high school dropout (i.e. they had passed Math and English, attended more than 90% of school days, had not been suspended, and had not been held back).

On the 2009-10 California Healthy Kids Survey, 39% of African American male 7th graders reported high levels of school protective factors. The percentages of African American males reporting high levels of each protective factor at school were as follows: 35% reported high levels of caring adults, 64% reported high levels of high expectations by adults, and 18% reported high levels of meaningful participation.

Proposed Target:

By the end of the 2014-15 school year, 90% of African American boys in grades six, seven, and eight will not display any early warning signs of high school dropout risk.

By the end of the 2014-15 school year, 75% of African American boys will report high levels of protective factors at school, and high levels of each protective factor (caring adults, high expectations by adults, and meaningful participation).


Goal Statement: Incarceration rates for African American male youth will decrease by 50%.

Baseline Measure:

In 2009, 16.2% of African American males ages 10-17 in Oakland were detained by the Alameda County Probation Department (903 youth). Detention may be pre- or post-adjudication and includes: Juvenile Hall, Camp Sweeney, secure facility (out of county), non-secure facility (in county), Santa Rita Holding (awaiting transfer to adult prison).

Proposed Target:

By 2015, no more than 8% of African American males ages 10-17 in Oakland will be detained by the Alameda County Probation Department.

The initial goals are explained in more depth in this report. Historical data and current progress toward goals are detailed in this PowerPoint presentation. http://www.urbanstrategies.org/aamai/

These strategies may be applicable to other cities.


Study: When teachers overcompensate for prejudice https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/study-when-teachers-overcompensate-for-prejudice/

We give up as a society: Jailing parents because kids are truant                                                                https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/we-give-up-as-a-society-jailing-parents-because-kids-are-truant/

Who says Black children can’t learn? Some schools get it https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/who-says-black-children-cant-learn-some-schools-gets-it/

ilda says this about that ©

Hard question: Does indigenous African-American culture support academic success?

19 Dec

Jesse Washington of AP has written a comprehensive article which details the magnitude of the disaster which is occurring in the African-American community. In the article, Blacks Struggle With 72% Unwed Mother Rate  which was reprinted at SeattlePI.Com Washington sounds an alarm which if you can’t hear it, makes you deaf.

This is not about racism or being elitist. This is about survival of an indigenous American culture. This is not about speaking the truth to power, it is about speaking the truth. The truth is children need two parents to help them develop properly and the majority of single parent headed families will live in poverty. Children from single parent homes have more difficult lives. So called “progressives” who want to make their “Sex and the City” life style choices the norm because they have a difficult time dealing with the emotional wreckage of their lives, need to shut-up when it comes to the survival of the African American community. This is an issue that the so called educated classes and religious communities have to get involved in.

Trip Gabriel reported about more fallout from the failure of the African-American family in the New York Times. In Proficiency of Black Students Is Found to Be Far Lower Than Expected  Gabriel reports:

An achievement gap separating black from white students has long been documented — a social divide extremely vexing to policy makers and the target of one blast of school reform after another.

But a new report focusing on black males suggests that the picture is even bleaker than generally known.

Only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys.

Poverty alone does not seem to explain the differences: poor white boys do just as well as African-American boys who do not live in poverty, measured by whether they qualify for subsidized school lunches.

The data was distilled from highly respected national math and reading tests, known as the National Assessment for Educational Progress, which are given to students in fourth and eighth grades, most recently in 2009. The report, “A Call for Change,” is to be released Tuesday by the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for urban public schools…

The search for explanations has recently looked at causes besides poverty, and this report may further spur those efforts.

There’s accumulating evidence that there are racial differences in what kids experience before the first day of kindergarten,” said Ronald Ferguson, director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard. “They have to do with a lot of sociological and historical forces. In order to address those, we have to be able to have conversations that people are unwilling to have.”

Brian M. Rosenthal’s  Seattle Times article reports about the achievement gap between native African-Americans and immigrant African ethnic groups in Seattle.

In the article, ‘Alarming’ new test-score gap discovered in Seattle schools, Rosenthal reports:

African-American students whose primary language is English perform significantly worse in math and reading than black students who speak another language at home — typically immigrants or refugees — according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools.

District officials, who presented the finding at a recent community meeting at Rainier Beach High School, noted the results come with caveats, but called the potential trend troubling and pledged to study what might be causing it.

Michael Tolley, an executive director overseeing Southeast Seattle schools, said at the meeting that the data exposed a new achievement gap that is “extremely, extremely alarming.”

The administration has for years analyzed test scores by race. It has never before broken down student-achievement data by specific home language or country of origin — it is rare for school districts to examine test scores at that level — but it is unlikely that the phenomenon the data suggest is actually new.

In fact, some national experts said the trend represented by the Seattle data is not surprising. They pointed to some studies about college attendance and achievement indicating that immigrant families from all backgrounds tend to put a larger emphasis on education than those families that have been in the country longer.

Traditional factors in low performance, such as poverty and single-parent homes, are generally shared by black immigrants and nonimmigrants alike….

The results, although preliminary, were eye-opening:

Only 36 percent of black students who speak English at home passed their grade’s math test, while 47 percent of Somali-speaking students passed. Other black ethnic groups did even better, although still lower than the district average of 70 percent.

In reading, 56 percent of black students who speak English passed, while 67 percent of Somali-speaking students passed. Again, other black ethnic groups did better, though still lower than the district average of 78 percent.

The numbers do have significant limitations, Teoh said. That’s because they are based on home-language information that is entirely self-reported, and the data exclude English Language Learners — an optional program for students who score poorly on an English proficiency test.

Most of all, Teoh said, because the English-speaking category includes students of many black ethnic groups, it’s impossible to compare specific ethnic groups.

At the recent community meeting, much of that distinction was lost on the parents in the audience.

“It’s very alarming that students that were born right here are at the bottom of the barrel,” said Vallerie Fisher, whose daughter is a senior at Rainier Beach. “How is that possible?”

Immigrant experience

The answer to that question may lie in the culture of immigrant families, national education experts said.

Many of those families, who often were relatively wealthy and well-educated in their home countries, have strong social-support systems that emphasize education, said Mike Petrilli, the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Pamela Bennett, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, agreed. She conducted a study in 2009 that found that immigrant black high-school graduates attend college at a much higher rate than black or white students born in the U.S. The reason was that the immigrants had a higher socioeconomic background, she said.

But that explanation may falter when Seattle’s Somali population is considered.

Many of the Somalis, after all, did not follow a normal pattern of immigration. Their families came to the U.S. to escape their war-torn country, many by way of refugee camps. But they still did better than English-speaking African Americans on the tests.

Veronica Gallardo, the director of international programs for Seattle Public Schools, speculated that the trauma experienced by Somali families causes them to value the opportunity education provides. In addition, Somali community groups tend to prioritize education, said Alexandra Blum, who works with the Somali Community Services Coalition, a nonprofit that works to empower families in King County.

Seattle School Board member Betty Patu, who has worked for decades with community groups serving students of color, said she has noticed that all immigrant families, regardless of socioeconomic status, place high value on education. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017046660_newgap19m.html

If you are a young unmarried woman of any color, you probably do not have the resources either emotional or financial to parent a child(ren). If you don’t care about your future, care about the future of your child. If you want to sleep with everything that has a pulse, that is your choice. BUT, you have no right to choose a life of poverty and misery for a child. As for those so called “progressives?” Just shut-up.

There are some very uncomfortable conversations ahead for the African-American community about the high rate of unwed mothers, about the care of women during pregnancy, and about early childhood education in the homes of children.Most important, about the lack the active involvement of fathers of some children.

Time to start talking. The conversation is not going to get any less difficult.


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Jonathan Cohn’s ‘The Two Year Window’


Dr. Wilda says this about that ©