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.