Monday, August 24, 2015

Black Students--A Juxtaposition

The top two posts on Joanne's blog today were both about black students in America:
Study: White teachers expect less of blacks
Non-black teachers have lower expectations for black students than black teachers, concludes a recent study.

“We cannot determine whether the black teachers are too optimistic, the non-black teachers are too pessimistic, or some combination of the two,” writes researcher Seth Gershenson. But it’s likely that teachers’ expectations “shape student outcomes.”
New Orleans improves — with black teachers
Today,  54 percent of NOLA teachers and 58 percent of RSD school leaders are black, writes Stewart. Blacks make up 59 percent of the city’s population.

“Great black school leaders and educators are working hard in a new system with many hopeful new possibilities,” he concludes. This time, growth of the black middle class is linked to “academic results for poor black children.”
What struck me was this:
When schools reopened (after Hurricane Katrina), the Recovery School District required that teacher candidates pass a basic skills test. “One third of the returning teachers failed that test,” writes Stewart.
Just out of curiousity, what races were those teachers?  Has anyone done a study asking what portion of New Orleans' students' improvement can be attributed to getting rid of bad teachers, as opposed to having black teachers?  The bottom line is that students are doing better, but the statistician in me wants to know if the title is correct or not.


momof4 said...

At least a decade ago, one eastern state (pretty sure it was MA) had a new test which all new ed grads had to pass, in order to be certified. IIRC, half failed. To its credit, the legislature resisted pressure to drop the cut score - and ed schools/students got the message and stepped up their games.

I've read recently that TFA is trending out of states with harder-to-pass teacher tests and into those with easier. I don't remember the cite, but the implication was that this was seen as a necessary part of its efforts to attract more URM teachers. In this context, and from the Katrina articles linked in the Joanne Jacobs article, I suspect that many, if not most, of the teachers who failed were black. In the latter, teachers were described as the backbone of the (NOLA) black middle class.

Ellen K said...

NOLA was a majority minority city long before Katrina. And most of the inner city teachers before Katrina were also minorities. This is a typical non-story story. By the way, it is also possible that many of the children who struggled moved out of NOLA where they got out of the cycle of poverty. I read an anthropology story on NOLA after Katrina that said the event pushed people out of their comfort zones into areas where they could be more successful rather than wallowing in old history.