Uncounted minorities

States aren’t counting minorities’ test scores, reports the AP in a story that’s sure to be misunderstood.

Under No Child Left Behind, all students must be tested in third through eighth grade and once in high school; everybody’s scores are counted. Schools also have to report scores by category — race, ethnicity, poverty, English fluency — unless there are too few students to be statistically significant. That’s why Asian-American students, who tend to have high scores, are the most likely, next to American Indians, to be “uncounted” as a separate category: They’re the most likely to be a small minority in the schools they attend. Here’s the problem:

State educators decide when a group is too small to count. And they’ve been asking the government for exemptions to exclude larger numbers of students in racial categories.

. . . -Oklahoma lets schools exclude the test scores from any racial category with 52 or fewer members in the testing population, one of the largest across-the-board exemptions. That means 1 in 5 children in the state don’t have scores broken out by race.

-Maryland, which tests about 150,000 students more than Oklahoma, has an exempt group size of just five. That means fewer than 1 in 100 don’t have scores counted.

Somewhere between Maryland and Oklahoma, this goes from a sensible policy to avoid reporting meaningless statistics to a ploy to avoid accountability for the poor performance of low-scoring groups.

About Joanne


  1. Indigo Warrior says:

    Groups don’t succeed or fail. Individuals do. The exception is when a certain group (which may or may not be ethnic) has a culture that discourages or even persecutes the seeking of knowledge.

  2. Sorry, but 52 is a really small number. One person represents 2 percent of the sample.

    Personally, I think that they should report the results but not get dissed on them. On the other hand, perhaps they should just define the confidence level and move on.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    The soft bigotry of low expectations strikes again.

  4. SuperSub says:

    The exemptions are necessary to provide wiggle room around NCLB. Schools that receive immigrants have to test them, and if the new students are part of a new ehtnic group or contribute to a small one, they can easily throw off the school’s scores.