Hard-working Asians ace admissions tests

Admission to New York City’s elite high schools is by test score only. Asian-Americans, who make up 14 percent of public school students, qualify for a majority of seats, reports the New York Times in Asians’ Success in High School Admissions Tests Seen as Issue by Some..

Civil rights groups complain low-income families can’t afford test prep. The city started free test prep programs for blacks and Hispanics, but was forced to open them to all students. Now 43 percent of participants come from Asian families.

Ting Shi, whose immigrant parents work long hours in a laundromat, used free test prep to qualify for Stuyvesant, the most elite high school. It’s 72 percent Asian, only 4 percent black and Hispanic.

In Asia, tests are “viewed not so much as measures of intelligence, but of industriousness,” students tell the Times.

Most of our parents don’t believe in ‘gifted,’ ” said Riyan Iqbal, 15, the son of Bangladeshi immigrants, as he and his friends — of Bengali, Korean and Indian descent — meandered toward the subway from the Bronx High School of Science one recent afternoon. “It’s all about hard work.”

No student, they said, was off the hook. Riyan, the son of a taxi driver and a Duane Reade cashier, and his schoolmates said their parents routinely plied them with motivational tales about the trials they endured back home, walking to school barefoot, struggling with hunger, being set back by floods and political unrest. “You try to make up for their hardships,” Riyan said.

Story ends with Emmie Cheng, a Cambodian emigre, who runs a shoe importing company. She spent $2,000 this year on tutoring programs and prep classes for her daughter Kassidi.

Cheng’s “father and four brothers died of starvation during Cambodia’s civil war.” In the U.S., her mother worked in a garment factory.  “This is the easy part,” Cheng said.

30% of U.S. adults have bachelor’s degree

More than 30 percent of U.S. adults hold bachelor’s degrees, the highest level ever, reports the Census Bureau. Women are on the brink of surpassing men in educational attainment.

As of last March, 30.4 percent of people over age 25 in the United States held at least a bachelor’s degree, and 10.9 percent held a graduate degree, up from 26.2 percent and 8.7 percent 10 years earlier.

Asian-Americans are the most educated: 50.3 percent  have at least a bachelor’s degree and 19.5 percent hold a graduate degree. By contrast, 34 percent of whites, 19.9 percent of blacks and 14.1 percent of Hispanics hold a bachelor’s degree or more.

President Obama wants 55 percent of Americans to earn a college degree.

Super-sizing the number of graduates, which would require doubling enrollment, won’t make us more prosperous, argues Peter Wood. There’s no “straightforward correlation between the percent of the population holding college degrees and the nation’s prosperity or its international competitiveness.”

Asian Americans lose out to Chinese students

Asian Americans lose as California schools pursue Chinese students, reports Next Media Animation, which is based in Taiwan.

Tuition-paying Chinese squeeze out Asian-Americans

Cash-strapped California are recruiting tuition-paying international and out-of-state students, leaving fewer places for Californians, reports Bloomberg News. Often that means Chinese students get in while high-achieving Asian-Americans, many of them the children of immigrants, do not.

Kwanhyun Park, the 18-year-old son of Korean immigrants, spent four years at Beverly Hills High School earning the straight As and high test scores he thought would get him into the University of California, San Diego. They weren’t enough.

In 2009, UC=San Diego cut its number of in-state freshmen by 500 to about 3,400 to make room for out-of-state and international students. California residents pay $13,234 in annual tuition while nonresidents pay $22,878.

The number of Chinese freshman soared from 16 to 200; the number of Asian-American Californians fell by 29 percent.


Asian-Americans face more school bullying

Asian-American students endure more bullying than others, a new study finds. Fifty-four percent of Asian-American teenagers said they were bullied in the classroom, compared to 38.4 percent of blacks, 34.3 percent of Hispanics and 31.3 percent of whites.

The disparity was even more striking for cyber-bullying.

Some 62 percent of Asian Americans reported online harassment once or twice a month, compared with 18.1 percent of whites.

The data comes from a 2009 survey by the U.S. Justice Department and Education Department which interviewed 6,500 students from ages 12 to 18.

Early college needs to be free

High school students will be guaranteed no-cost access to “early college” classes under the Pathways to College program, which is part of the Harkin-Enzi bill reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  While some Asian-American students have very high college enrollment and graduation rates, other subgroups, such as Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders, are struggling and should be included in the college completion agenda, a new report argues.

Cutting academics, adding ‘diversity’ czars

The University of California’s budget has been “cut to the bone,” says a spokesman.  Campuses are cutting academic programs — but adding “diversity” functionaries, writes Heather Mac Donald in City Journal.

The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This position would augment UC San Diego’s already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.

Gibor Basri, UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, earns $194,000 in base pay and has 17 people in his office. That could pay for a lot of assistant professors, who start at  $53,000, Mac Donald writes.

To save money, UC San Diego’s Academic Senate has cut master’s programs in electrical and computer engineering and comparative literature and dropped courses in French, German, Spanish, and English literature.

At the same time, the body mandated a new campus-wide diversity requirement for graduation. The cultivation of “a student’s understanding of her or his identity,” as the diversity requirement proposal put it, would focus on “African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Chicanos, Latinos, Native Americans, or other groups” through the “framework” of “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, language, ability/disability, class or age.”

“Diversity” is “a code word for narcissism,” Mac Donald concludes.

Asian-Americans make up nearly half of UC-San Diego students (pdf); many major in math, science or engineering. Perhaps “me studies” has to be required because students are too busy taking academic courses in hopes of being able to pay back their student loans.

UC tuition is rising.

 

Not all Asians complete college

Not all Asian-American students go to Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Cal Tech, a new advocacy group stresses. College-going and graduation rates are very high for East Asian and South Asian students, much lower for Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Also on Community College Spotlight: A new commission will examine the future of community colleges in the 21st century. So far, it’s not going well: More people are seeking education and job training at community colleges, but states can’t afford to maintain funding.

Few black, Hispanic students at elite public school

Few black or Hispanic students qualify for an elite magnet school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, in northern Virginia. While blacks and Hispanics make up 33 percent of public school students in the region,  they comprise less than 4 percent of TJ’s student body. “Initiatives to enlarge the pipeline of qualified black and Hispanic students in elementary and middle school have flopped,” reports the Washington Post.  Asian-Americans are now the largest group of students.

Like other public schools with competitive admissions, TJ screens applicants through grades and test scores. A key requirement is that students take Algebra 1 by eighth grade. Many disadvantaged students don’t clear that threshold, which presents a national challenge for science and math instruction.

Competition to get into TJ is fierce. Some private companies charge hundreds of dollars to prepare students for the school’s entrance exam, a two-hour test of math and verbal-reasoning skills. For those who get in, the payoff is clear. The school has an array of laboratories in fields such as biotechnology and microelectronics, and students follow a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum that culminates in a senior research project.

The school adopted race-blind admissions in 1997. In 2004, officials decided to let race and ethnicity be considered as a factor, along with essays and teacher recommendations, once applicants had been screened by test scores and grades. But the admissions rate for blacks and Hispanics continued to fall.

Other selective regional schools have stopped using affirmative action, the Post reports.

Fairfax school officials say that diversifying TJ requires more than making admissions criteria more flexible. It means helping black and Hispanic students keep up with their white and Asian American counterparts at an early age, especially in math and science.

Since 2000, a county program known as Young Scholars has tried to recruit elementary students who might one day attend TJ. More than half of the program’s 3,776 students between kindergarten and eighth grade are black or Hispanic. Next spring, the first 30 Young Scholars will graduate from high school. Only one will be a TJ graduate.

The school’s Parent Teacher Student Association also offers free test-preparation courses for minority students.

Because there’s little diversity, students “are missing out on a critical part of their education,” says Melissa Schoeplein, a history teacher who complains of teaching about race and poverty in classes with no blacks or Hispanics.

In California, many high-achieving Asian-American students come from low-income and working-class immigrant families. I’d bet that’s true in Virginia too.

Via Education Gadfly

SAT scores flat, except for Asians

The class of 2010’s SAT scores were flat, except for Asian-Americans, already the highest-scoring group. From the Wall Street Journal:

Overall, the average score for the graduating class of 2010 in reading remained at 501; climbed in math to 516 from 515; and dropped in writing to 492 from 493, according to scores released Monday.

However, Asian-American students widened their lead by gaining three points in reading, six points in writing and four points in math.  “More than two-thirds took at least four years of science in high school, versus 59% of all test-takers, and 48% of the Asian-Americans took calculus, versus only 28% of the rest of the pool,” College Board officials told the Journal.

Not surprisingly, students who took college-prep courses outperformed those who didn’t. The number of test takers rose by 1.2 percent.