Saturday, January 02, 2016

Are DC's Schools Bad, Or Are DC's Students Bad?

The test results aren't good:
Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson called the results of last year’s standardized tests “sobering.” How about painful?

The tests, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams, or PARCC, showed that just 25 percent of D.C. students in the third through eighth grades met or exceeded expectations on new standardized tests in English. Only 24 percent met a new math benchmark.

And that was the good news.

Were it not for white test-takers in this majority-minority school system, the results would have been even worse.

Overall English and math proficiency rates reached 25 percent and 24 percent, respectively, only because white students, who make up 12 percent of the school system, scored proficiency rates of 79 percent in English and 70 percent in math.

The stark truth: Black students, who constitute 67 percent of the school population, had a 17 percent proficiency rate in both English and math, trailing Hispanics, who comprise 17 percent of the school population and recorded proficiency rates of 21 percent in English and 22 percent in math.

Translation: Beginning at least in the third grade, an overwhelming majority of black students are on a track that leads in the wrong direction — away from college-level work or a career after high school graduation.

Let that sink in.

The picture isn’t better for the city’s high school students. Of those who took a new geometry test, only 10 percent met proficiency standards. Twenty-five percent met proficiency standards in the new English test.

Again, the presence of white students prevented the dismal high school results from being even worse. Fifty-two percent of white students scored proficient or better in geometry, while 82 percent were college-ready in English.

Stack those rates against the 8 percent of Hispanic students and 4 percent of black students scoring proficient in geometry, and the 25 percent of Hispanic and 20 percent of black students reaching that mark in English.

Anyway you slice it, in this multiracial school system, black students bring up the rear.
Are the tests racially biased, perhaps?
Don’t blame the tests. They measure where the students are. Besides, the new standardized tests weren’t instruments imposed on the city from on high. A consortium of 11 states and the District developed the PARCC tests.
I'm sure some of DC's teachers are bad.  There are bad teachers everywhere.  I can't see how, though, bad teachers uniformly across the country single out black kids and ensure they do the worst of all.

No, I don't think the racial achievement gap is caused by bad teachers.  As I've said 8 zillion times, it's a result of culture.  This is where Occam's Razor leads me.

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