At a Bay Area high school, students were separated by race and ethnicity for pre-testing pep talks.
(Mt. Diablo High) held separate assemblies for students of different ethnicities to talk about last year’s test results and the upcoming slew of state exams this spring.
Jazz music and pictures of Martin Luther King greeted African-American students, whereas Filipino, Asian and Pacific Islander students saw flags of their foreign homelands on the walls. Latinos and white students each attended their own events, too, complete with statistics showing results for all ethnicities and grade level.
“They started off by saying jokingly, ‘What up, white people,'” said freshman Megan Wiley, 14. Teachers flashed last year’s test scores and told the white crowd of students to do better for the sake of their people.
“They got into, ‘You should be proud of your race,'” Wiley said. “It was just weird.”
The principal said she wanted to “avoid one group harassing another based on their test scores.” Asians, who make up about 5 percent of enrollment, post the highest scores, with whites (30 percent) next, blacks (15 percent) third and Latinos (50 percent) trailing. Scores are rising, with blacks and English Learners showing the most growth.
It’s common for schools to encourage students to do their best on state tests. I’ve never heard of school officials encouraging students to focus on their membership in a racial or ethnic group as a way to improve scores.