Gap starts in kindergarten

To defend itself against a suit charging blacks receive an inferior education, a Florida school district is using a study showing black kindergarteners start out behind other students.

Pinellas County schools tracked 8,400 students from kindergarten in 1989 through high school graduation, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Kindergarten teachers rated students “on academic skills such as their knowledge of letters, and emotional skills such as the ability to communicate and take turns.”

In the reading category, for example, 43 percent of black children were found not to have age-appropriate skills, compared with 29 percent of Asian children, 21 percent of Hispanic children and 16 percent of white children.

Readiness ratings accurately predicted future performance. Black students trail whites by 20 to 40 points in reading and math

The study found black students do no better, and sometimes do worse, with black teachers.

The district claims the study will provide guidance in how to improve black students’ performance, not just a way to shift blame and win the lawsuit. For example, the district could study the 20 percent of schools where blacks are doing well — when poverty is factored out, they outperform nonblack classmates — to figure out what to copy in other schools.

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Comments

  1. Richard Cook says:

    I wonder if the report said something about learning beginning “in the home”.

  2. Catch Thirty Thr33 says:

    It would be fascinating, and possibly much more helpful, if someone would bother to look at the CULTURAL factors in education, as opposed to racial ones. I suspect that it doesn’t matter if you are white, black, purple, polka-dotted or whatever…but it does if you have parents who read to you from an early age and constantly show that this whole “going to school” thing is important.
    Those factors transcend race and the fact that all of these studies wish to focus alomst exclusively on race as a factor is just depressing.

  3. Wayne Martin says:

    > the reading category, for example, 43 percent of black children
    > are found not to have age-appropriate skills, compared with
    > 29 percent of Asian children, 21 percent of Hispanic children
    > and 16 percent of white children.

    These numbers more-or-less track national numbers, although the Asian children’s performance seems a little low.

    > The point is, whatever the reasons are (for the gap), they
    > have failed to educate those students.”

    Interesting that the State (read the taxpayers) are financially liable for a “failure to educate”, but the parents don’t seem to have any obligations in the process.

    > In all categories, black children were more likely to be deemed as
    > not having the skills they should have by kindergarten age.

    And whose fault is that?

    It would be very instructive to have a lawyer explain to us why the courts should entertain these sorts of cases.

  4. One of the things I took from the recent New York Times Magazine story by Paul Tough was not the controversial arguments about school regimentation, but rather the psychology research showing that the amount of time adults spent simply talking with children made a huge difference to the children’s vocabulary development and overall academic ability.

    Since my interest is more in higher ed than in primary or secondary ed, it’s natural for me to wonder how late in development this effect can be exerted. I bet it can be exerted a lot longer than people usually think. Here are some speculations:

    http://collegiateway.org/news/2006-what-it-takes-to-make-a-student

  5. When I have a student who is below grade level and the data points to severe gaps I look back through the child’s history. I almost always find the same things…..poor performance in reading that began back in Pre-K or K, a high number of absences every year (10 ), discipline issues, and lack of parent/guardian’s attendance at meetings (usually 3-4 per year). I don’t use this information to excuse my teaching the child, but it sure does tell me we have quite a wall to climb. These kids made progress every year, but sadly it’s not enough.

  6. For example, the district could study the 20 percent of schools where blacks are doing well — when poverty is factored out, they outperform nonblack classmates — to figure out what to copy in other schools.

    Good God! What a staggering concept.

    Studying the successes with an eye toward incorporating their methods and ideas.

    But where might such a revolutionary idea lead? It could lead to disaster. Next thing you know there’ll be metrics for measuring the efficacy with which a successful technique is practiced. And then expectations! Expectations!

    How’s a public education system supposed to function if the public has unreasonable expectations which is to say, any expectations at all. It’s taken decades to get the public used to a 50% drop-our rate and 30% literacy rate and this dalliance with success could undo all that careful work.

  7. someone explain to me why when taken out of schools and homeschooled, blacks and white score the same on standardized tests?

  8. Let’s try to remember that we have a responsibility to educate children who start kindergarten behind — both for their benefit and our society’s. This is regardless of the effectiveness of the parenting they receive pre-K.

    New Jersey is funding preschool for 3- and 4-year olds in low income districts. I understand Georgia has a similar program. Let’s see whether those programs work and, if so, expand them to all needy children. Of course, for many middle class kids, preschool will not be as beneficial as the “home based preschool” they currently enjoy. But for those who will benefit we can’t afford NOT to attempt to remediate the effects of the failure of parents to provide adequate preschool educational experiences.

  9. superdestroyer says:

    Andrea,

    Could you please cite you data comparing white homeschooler and black homeschollers for comparable educational performance that is corrected for parental education level, family income level, and marital status.

    I would like to see such data. My reading of test data is that homeschoolers perform, on average, at about the same level as whites do as a subgroup.

  10. Andrea – Homeschooling takes involved parents.

  11. Andrea,
    Selection bias, at least partially.

  12. Cardinal Fang says:

    It’s not an either/or situation. Black kindergarteners do start out behind. That’s no defense for Florida, though. Most likely the black students start out behind and then get an inferior education.

    Where I live, the Latino students start out behind. Then the rich white school districts are able to hire better teachers, so the white and Asian kids, who started out ahead, get a better education in better schools.

  13. superdestroyer, like I tell my homeschooled kids… look it up. You will find it. Try google. I’ve read it in books not readily found online.

  14. superdestroyer says:

    Andrea,

    Like I tell the debate thems that I judge: You made the claim, you provide the cite.

    The least you could do if provide the names of the books.

    When people tell others to look up their claims, they lower their credibility.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Education blogger and San Jose Mercury editorial writer Joanne Jacobs notes that a Florida school district is defending itself against a lawsuit charging that blacks receive an inferior education, by citing a study to the effect that the gap between black and white students starts in kindergarten. […]