Friday, January 28, 2005

Racial learning gap

The racial learning gap continues to persist according to recent SAT test scores:

Looking at the most recent results of national SAT testing yields few surprises or reasons for hope. Over the last two years, the numbers are the same.

But more alarming, the achievement gap between non-Latino white and Asian students and their black and Latino counterparts shows little improvement, only narrowing slightly across the nation. There is still a 202-point gap between non-Latino white and black students, and there is still a 133-point difference between non-Latino whites and Latinos. California SAT scores lag behind those in the rest of the nation, and trailing California's results are those of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Some students are on the fast track to a four-year university, while others struggle just to read and compute after finishing the 12th grade.

Just how bad is the racial learning gap in L.A.'s public schools?

Only slightly more than 22 percent of black LAUSD students scored proficient or better in the English portion of the SAT, as did 19.7 percent of Latinos, while 60 percent of Asian students tested proficient or better, as did 57 percent of non-Latino white students. Only 21.4 percent of black students tested proficient or better in math, with Latinos doing only slightly better. More than 72 percent of Asian students and nearly 59 percent of non-Latino white students scored at or above proficient in the SAT's math section.

And see who is being blamed for this gap:

Evidence of the tendency to make use of crackpot theories was graphically displayed recently when one local high school attempted to hold a discussion about the achievement gap. The discussion went fairly well until one of the many downtown minions of the LAUSD, who had been invited to speak, announced that the problem of the achievement gap was -- drum roll, please -- mainly that of insensitive, uncaring white teachers.

But the real cause of the problem may be the parents and children themselves:

A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education found that black parents read to their children far less frequently and visit libraries with their children less often than do white and Asian parents, and -- on average -- black children watch far more television per week than their peers from other ethnic backgrounds. Some 54 percent of black kids have cable TV in their rooms, while only 36 percent of white children do.

Other educational surveys have found that black parents are far more accepting of substandard grades than are Asian or white parents. Still another study, conducted by the Viacom Network and the Cultural Access Group, has discovered that black children have the most positive sense of self, being more likely among other ethnic groups to see themselves as powerful and influential. This, of course, runs counter to the orthodox claims that black kids suffer from poor self-esteem, requiring "culturally sensitive" approaches.

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