Among those who took the SAT in the Los Angeles Unified School District, blacks averaged 807, Hispanics 829, Asians 1007, and whites 1059
Did lack of English hold Latino mean scores down? Unlikely. LAUSD's Latinos averaged 408 on the Verbal section and 421 on the Math section, compared to 525 V and 534 M for whites and 477 V and 530 M for Asians. This small gap between the Verbal and Math scores for Latinos suggests that unfamiliarity with English is not a severe problem for those who do take the SAT. Those who don't speak English well are less likely to take the SAT.
It would be easy to blame the poor test scores in Los Angeles public schools on the LAUSD, a vast bureaucracy with a poor reputation for management. Yet 26 of the 56 other school districts in Los Angeles County have worse test scores—many much worse.
Take the Compton Unified School District … please. Only one percent of Compton's seniors score over 1000. While Compton was the home of West Coast gangsta rap, its school district is now 69 percent Latino. At Compton's Centennial High, whose red school color was adopted by the notorious Bloods gang when it was founded at Centennial in 1972, only 22 percent of 12th graders took the SAT. And this cream of the Compton crop recorded an average SAT score of 715.
For Los Angeles County as a whole, which includes some of the ritiziest suburbs in America, just 18 percent of public school students reached the 1000 benchmark.
But the news is actually worse. These statistics overestimate the average LA County teenager's aptitude.
That's because a huge percentage of Southern California students drop out before 12th grade. At a typical LAUSD high school like Birmingham in the San Fernando Valley, there are 1442 9th graders and only 532 12th graders. At South Central Locke, which is 5/8ths Hispanic and 3/8ths black, a UCLA study estimated the graduation rate at 24 percent.
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