Florida sets lower goals for blacks, Hispanics

Florida’s race-based achievement goals are raising hackles, reports the Palm Beach Post. To qualify for a No Child Left Behind waiver, the state board of education set new goals based on race, ethnicity, poverty and disabilities.

. . .  by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level. For math, the goals are 92 percent of Asian kids proficient, whites at 86 percent, Hispanics at 80 percent and blacks at 74 percent.

The new goals are realistic, state education officials said. Blacks and Hispanics will have to improve at faster rates than whites or Asians.

. . .  the percentage of white students scoring at or above grade level (as measured by whether they scored a 3 or higher on the reading FCAT) was 69 percent in 2011-2012, according to the state. For black students, it was 38 percent, and for Hispanics, it was 53 percent.

If each subgroup follows the trajectory in the strategic plan, all students will be 100 percent proficient by the 2022-2023 school year, according to the state education department.

Most of the states applying for NCLB waivers have set lower goals for black, Hispanic, low-income and disabled students. As long as the goals require low-scoring groups to improve more quickly, the U.S. Education Department has endorsed differential targets.

Schott: 52% of black males graduate in 4 years

Only 52 percent of black male and 58 percent of Latino male ninth-graders graduate from high school four years later, compared to 78 percent of white males, reports the Schott Foundation in The Urgency of Now. Black male graduation rates are improving, but not fast enough, according to the foundation, which calls for schools to focus on the neediest students.

Virginia’s goals: Is ‘achievable’ OK?

Virginia’s “together and unequal” expectations for low-income, minority and disabled students received a federal waiver from No Child Left Behind, complained Andrew Rotherham, a former state school board member. He suggested more ambitious targets to narrow the achievement gap in Eduwonk.

The controversy “shows reformers’ fealty to ideology over implementation,” responds Mike Petrilli on Flypaper. If NCLB’s “objectives, carrots, and sticks are to actually motivate educators, and not just demoralize them, they must been seen as achievable.” b

To be sure, even Virginia officials have agreed that the goals put into their ESEA application weren’t ambitious enough; they will come back later this month with more challenging targets for their poor and minority students. That’s fair; groups that are further behind should be expected to make greater progress over time.

On Dropout Nation, RiShawn Biddle argues for common targets for all students: Virginia set low expectations for black, Latino and poor students because it’s reluctant to push “the strong reforms needed” to improve achievement, he writes.

Latinos do better in school, but still lag

Education Week’s Diplomas Count 2012 looks at Latinos’ School Success: A Work in Progress.

The public school graduation rate rose to 73.4 percent for the class of 2009, 1.7 percentage points higher than the previous year and a 7-point rise over the decade, the report finds. Latinos gained the most, rising 5.5 points to a 63 percent graduation rate. African-American graduates increased by 1.7 percentage points to 59 percent.

But Latinos’ 63 percent graduation rate is still far short of the national average — and farther still from non-Hispanic white students’ average graduation rate. And, despite some success in recent years at narrowing the gap separating them from white students on national tests of reading, mathematics, and science, Latino students’ performance on those tests also falls below the national average.

More than 90 percent of Latinos under 18 were born in the U.S., Ed Week reports.

1,700 students per counselor

Overwhelmed with students and short of funding, California’s community colleges plan to give enrollment priority to students who commit to an academic plan in their first year of college and make progress toward their goals. But a state law is making it hard to hire enough counselors. One college has 1,700 students per counselor. Students wait hours to get five or 10 minutes with a counselor.

More Latinos are enrolling in college, but graduation rates remain low.

Early test lets students boost skills

When Massachusetts high school students took a college placement pretest, most learned they were on the remedial track. After taking online classes, they reduced their need for developmental education in college.

California Latinos, who make up half the college-age population, are missing out on higher education.

Chicago fails to close achievement gaps

After 16 years of school reform, Chicago’s “racial gaps in achievement have steadily increased,” according to a study by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research.  White and Asian students are making more progress than Latinos; blacks are “falling behind all other groups.”

Some initiatives, such as closing underperforming schools, may have hurt students, Jean-Claude Brizard, the new superintendent, told the Chicago Tribune.

If school closings destabilized certain neighborhoods, other efforts were ineffective — millions of dollars pumped into countless after-school initiatives and tutoring and mentoring programs geared toward African-American students, only to see math and reading scores languish and many students fall further behind.

The percentage of black students meeting benchmarks on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test has grown at a faster rate than whites’ progress. But the consortium looked at average scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  “NAEP scores don’t just look at a percentage of students that pass a certain cut of points. It talks about the average scores, so it’s a much better way to look at trends over time,” (researcher Marisa) de la Torre said.

Over the last 20 years, graduation rates in Chicago have improved dramatically, the study found. Math scores improved slightly in elementary and middle schools while reading scores “have remained fairly flat for two decades.”

NCLB stands for No Chance for Latinos and Blacks, writes Coach G, who began teacher inner-city Chicago students in 1993. Even in the pre-reform era, two years before Mayor Richard Daley took control of the city’s schools, there was pressure to raise reading and math scores, Coach G recalls.

No Child Left Behind increased pressure to replace “rich curriculum with test prep,” he writes. Schools cut back on teaching writing: In many schools, the three Rs were reduced to two.  Other responses:

  • providing tutoring and other individualized services for on-the-bubble students who were just short of a proficient score the previous year, while neglecting the most deficient and most advanced students
  • preventing students from taking advanced classes if the content wouldn’t be on the test
  • enabling students’ self-defeating behavior
  • holding teachers accountable for results without providing them the support they need to achieve those results

Years ago, a testing guru told me the most effective way to raise students test scores is to teach writing. It even works for math scores, he said. Filling in bubbles? A waste of time after the first five minutes, he said.


The college counselor is an online portal

An online portal is helping community college students identify their learning styles and study strategies.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  The Lumina Foundation is funding Latino college success initiatives.

Few Latinos are college graduates

More Latinos are going to college but, so far, young Latinos are half as likely as other young Americans to have completed a two- or four-year degree.

Also on Community College SpotlightWhite to green.

Study: Bullying hurts black, Latino achievers

Bullied students’ grades slip, according to a new study (pdf) of high school students. High-achieving black and Latino students suffer the most academically, conclude Ohio State doctoral student Lisa M. Williams and Virginia Tech Sociology Professor Anthony A. Peguero.

The sociologists found that the grade point average of all students who were bullied in 10th grade dropped slightly by 12th grade. By their senior year, black students who had a 3.5 grade point average, on a scale of 0 to 4, as freshmen, lost almost one-third of a point if they had been bullied. The result was more pronounced for Latino victims of bullying: They lost half a point. That compares with a loss of less than one-tenth of a point for white students who had undergone such harassment, the researchers found.

Black and Latino students with high test scores are more likely to be harassed or teased at school, the researchers found in an earlier study published this year.  Another stereotype-busting group — low-achieving Asian-Americans –also were more vulnerable to bullying.