Upon hearing this information we should be on the look out over the next few months as various operatives take this information and use it for their own particular political agenda.
- Some will blame "No Child Left Behind", making the case that its artificial focus upon testing triggered short term gains as teachers doggedly focused upon success on the test. After "sanity" was returned we are now seeing that the gains did not stick. Thus "NCLB was a failure - just as we said it was all along". (Said the people with the bloody switch blade in their back pockets as they worked to slash its throat from day one in the spirit of retaining the status quo but receiving more money)
- Others will point to the fact that the present school establishment is failing to properly educate Black and Hispanic children. Educational reform should mean school choice - charter schools, school vouchers, smaller class rooms
Lost in all of this political pawnsmanship where our children are on the chessboard is the oft heard notion that "education is the great equalizer in our society". Too frequently this notion never gets put into action beyond the time when it is spoken into a microphone at the community rally and when the highly motivated crowd leaves the building and has to "operationalize it" upon an actual Black kid, preferably their own.
In my estimation there is one of two possible truths going on here:
- The greater societal forces that are at work which make the task of academic proficiency for Black and Hispanic students is real. Regardless of how focused we are about the classroom - if we don't take a holistic societal approach to this - the racial achievement gap will continue
- The well known, top performing charter schools (and well managed standard public schools) are able to take children from these same distressed background and carve out an oasis within their ghettos. They provide the intense structure within the school building and demand parental involvement in the educational management process of their own children thus they achieve the long sought after results.
My bias has me focused toward #2. We can use the "Department of Defense Schools" - which educate the children of enlisted soldiers for evidence of an entity that has functionally addressed the racial performance gap.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a national, ongoing assessment of student performance, the average academic performance of all students in DoDEA schools is high, and the performance of African American and Hispanic students is among the highest in the nation. Based on this evidence of success and the fact that DoDEA schools share some of the same characteristics of many of the nation’s public schools, a research group at Vanderbilt University examined the high achievement of African American and Hispanic students in DoDEA schools. This digest will summarize the results of their study, March toward Excellence: School Success and Minority Student Achievement in Department of Defense Schools(Smrekar, Guthrie, Owens, & Sims,2001), along with supporting research identifying policies and practices that may contribute to the success of DoDEA schools.The DoD schools do a good job integrating the parents as managers of their children's education. In the context of the strict discipline of the military - the parents have little choice than to do as the base culture commands that they do.
For communities that are poor and that don't have access to an abundance of resources the task of focusing the adult parent's attention upon the education of their own children becomes that much more important. Failing to do so has that a more acute negative impact. If not the adult parents then WHO?
NY Times Article:
Two years ago, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, testified before Congress about the city’s impressive progress in closing the gulf in performance between minority and white children. The gains were historic, all but unheard of in recent decades.
“Over the past six years, we’ve done everything possible to narrow the achievement gap — and we have,” Mr. Bloomberg testified. “In some cases, we’ve reduced it by half.”
“We are closing the shameful achievement gap faster than ever,” the mayor said again in 2009, as city reading scores — now acknowledged as the height of a test score bubble — showed nearly 70 percent of children had met state standards.
When results from the 2010 tests, which state officials said presented a more accurate portrayal of students’ abilities, were released last month, they came as a blow to the legacy of the mayor and the chancellor, as passing rates dropped by more than 25 percentage points on most tests. But the most painful part might well have been the evaporation of one of their signature accomplishments: the closing of the racial achievement gap.
Among the students in the city’s third through eighth grades, 40 percent of black students and 46 percent of Hispanic students met state standards in math, compared with 75 percent of white students and 82 percent of Asian students. In English, 33 percent of black students and 34 percent of Hispanic students are now proficient, compared with 64 percent among whites and Asians.
“The claims were based on some bad information,” said Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a research group that studies education policy. “On achievement, the story in New York City is of some modest progress, but not the miracle that the mayor and the chancellor would like to claim.”
Reducing racial gaps in educational performance has been a national preoccupation for decades. But after substantial progress in the 1970s and ’80s, the effort has largely stalled, except for a brief period from 1999 to 2004, where there were some gains, particularly in reading, according to a report released this month by the Educational Testing Service, which develops standardized tests used across the country.
The achievement gap was also the main thrust of the No Child Left Behind law, which mandated annual testing for all students in grades three through eight and required school systems to track the performance of each racial and ethnic group, with the goal of bringing all children to proficiency by 2014.
New York City’s progress in closing its achievement gap on those tests drew national attention as a possible model for other urban school districts. It won praise from President George W. Bush as evidence that No Child Left Behind was working. In 2007, the city won a prestigious urban education prize from the Broad Foundation, which cited the city’s progress in narrowing the racial achievement gap.
But the latest state math and English tests show that the proficiency gap between minority and white students has returned to about the same level as when the mayor arrived. In 2002, 31 percent of black students were considered proficient in math, for example, while 65 percent of white students met that standard.
Experts have many theories, but no clear answers, about why national progress on closing the gap has slowed. They included worsening economic conditions for poor families and an increase in fatherless black households, social factors that interfere with students’ educational progress.
Mr. Klein said in an interview that he was not discouraged by New York City’s performance on the 2010 state tests, and that he still felt “awfully good” about improvements for black and Hispanic students, noting their rising graduation rates and college enrollments.
“I don’t think we claimed it was a miracle; certainly I don’t believe it was a miracle,” he said. “I think there are sustained steady gains here, and I think that’s important.”
Unbowed, Mr. Klein said the new test results reinforced some of his beliefs and policies: he said he would continue to close low-performing schools, for example, and would keep pushing to pay more to teachers who work in hard-to-staff neighborhoods or subjects, which the teachers’ union has resisted.
The bulk of Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein’s effort to overhaul the education system has been focused on the lowest-performing students. The city has closed 91 poorly performing schools, established about 100 charter schools and sent waves of new young teachers and principals into schools in poor neighborhoods.