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.”

CCs need middle-class students

Community colleges should recruit white, middle-class students to build political capital and financial support, argues Richard Kahlenberg, a Century Foundation fellow.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Looking for ways to get students to stay in college.

The struggle for P.S. 84

The struggle for P.S. 84 will determine whether Latino immigrant parents can share a Brooklyn school with middle-class whites who are gentrifying the Williamsburg neighborhood.

The first round of integration went badly, reports Capital New York. In fall of 2006, P.S. 84 was “83 percent Latino, but the 8 percent of white students comprised nearly half of the Pre-K and Kindergarten classes.” The “newcomer” parents were eager to volunteer in classrooms, contribute their fund-raising skills and lead the PTA.

. . . during elections for the School Leadership Team, a council that comprises parents and staff. (Brooke) Parker, the Pre-K parent, stood up to give her stump speech. Depending on whom you ask, the speech was either a galvanizing call to improve the school or an affront to its teachers and pre-existing parents. Also depending on whom you ask, Parker was rudely heckled or duly called out for her own rudeness.

“I was heckled by the faculty, in front of my kids,” Parker complains. “The faculty was like, ‘Who are you to come in here?’ The insinuation was that I couldn’t be accountable to anyone except my constituency, which was perceived to be middle-class.”

Jaime Estades, who later became PTA president, put it another way: “A parent stood up and talked about how bad the teaching in the school was and that changes had to be made. You can’t just say that to a bunch of teachers.”

Newcomer parents objected to the school’s annual Three Kings Day parade, a cultural tradition for Latino parents. Newcomers objected to selling ice cream in Pre-K classes to help fund the PTA.  Newcomers, many of them involved in the arts, wanted progressive education, while immigrant parents favored traditional methods.

The reception they received shocked the newcomer parents. As they saw it, they were working hard to turn a bad school into a good one only to run into opponents who kept making it about race.

Few white students went on to first grade at P.S. 84, which went through several principals before hiring a Latina raised in Williamsburg.

Sereida Rodriguez-Guerra is trying to lure new students. She’s introduced progressive educational programs, such as “the Renzulli method, which matches curriculum to students’ learning styles and interests, as well as the Visual Thinking Strategies program, which aims to improve critical thinking and descriptive language skills through discussion of visual images.”

Test scores remain low — the school has an “F” rating — which advocates blame on previous administrations. The principal says the school doesn’t “teach to the test.”

The atmosphere is calmer, though tensions remain between parent groups. “Last year, a group of mostly newcomer parents volunteered their time, money and artisanal skills to renovate the long-defunct library.” Other newcomers are redesigning the school’s web site.

White enrollment is back up to 7.6 percent, mostly in pre-K and kindergarten. But middle-class white families won’t stick with P.S. 84 without signs of academic progress.

If the school remains half-empty, the unused space is likely to be given to a charter school. P.S. 84 loyalists say that will destroy their school.

Meanwhile, Williamsburg continues to gentrify.

Via HechingerEd.

Not so flat

Reading and math achievement have improved significantly in the last 40 years, writes Richard Rothstein on National Journal, countering Bill Gates’ charge that we’re spending more than twice as much with little to show for it. In particular, blacks have narrowed the achievement gap by improving more than whites, Rothstein points out.

Looking at long-term trends for all students on the Nation’s Report Card, nine- and 13-year-olds improved in math till 2004, when scores leveled off.  Scores for 17-year-olds leveled off in 1990. Reading scores from 1971 to 2008  improved significantly for nine-year-olds, improved slightly for 13-year-olds and did not improve for 17-year-olds.

While Rothstein concedes that education spending has doubled in real dollars, “less than half of this new money has gone to regular education (including compensatory education for disadvantaged children, programs for English-language learners, integration programs like magnet schools, and special schools for dropout recovery and prevention). Special education consumed less than 4% of all K-12 spending 40 years ago; it now consumes 21% of education dollars.

Unless No Child Left Behind is modified, 82 percent of U.S. schools could fail to meet “adequate yearly progress” targets next year, estimates Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Currently, 37 percent are failing to meet targets, but many states set achievable goals in the early years in hopes that performance would soar in the final years.  — or that the targets would be lowered.  Duncan’s credibility is under attack — will the number of AYP losers more than double in one year? — but nobody thinks the goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014 is achievable, even with some states defining “proficiency” as “barely literate.” The Obama administration wants to set a new goal: Students will be ready for college or careers by 2020. I don’t believe in that one either. Only the lowest-performing 5 percent would face “turnaround” or “transformation.”

Longhorns 17, Badgers 1

In “low-tax, low-spending Texas, graduation rates are low, writes New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. SAT scores are low in the five states without collective bargaining for teachers, reports The Economist. Texas ranks 47th, while Wisconsin is second.

“The point being, I suppose, is that unionized teachers stand as a thin chalk-stained line keeping Wisconsin from descending into the dystopian non-union educational hellscape of Texas,” writes Iowahawk. Actually, Texas is out-educating Wisconsin, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress, which breaks down test scores by grade, state, subject and ethnicity.

“A state’s ‘average ACT/SAT’ is, for all intents and purposes, a proxy for the percent of white people who live there,” writes Iowahawk, who attributes the test gap to differences in socioeconomic status, racism and family structure. Wisconsin (4% black, 4% Hispanic) will have higher average scores than Texas (12% black, 30% Hispanic). When scores are disaggregated by race and ethnicity, “brokeass, dumbass, redneck Texas” does better than “progressive unionized Wisconsin” for whites and blacks and Hispanics.

2009 4th Grade Math

White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)

Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)

Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)

2009 8th Grade Math

White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 294)

Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)

Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)

2009 4th Grade Reading

White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)

Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)

Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)

2009 8th Grade Reading

White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)

Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)

Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)

2009 4th Grade Science

White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)

Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)

Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)

2009 8th Grade Science

White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)

Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)

Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)

Whites, blacks and Hispanics do better in Texas than in Wisconsin in 17 comparisons; Hispanics score insignificantly higher in science in Wisconsin in fourth grade.

Texas students exceeded the national average for their ethnic cohort in all 18 comparisons; Wisconsinites were below the national average in 8, above average in 8.

In addition, the racial achievement gap is much wider in Wisconsin than in Texas.

Non-union Georgia also does well in comparison to Wisconsin, though not as well as Texas, writes Kyle Wingfield.

The Economist’s SAT scores are both out of date and meaningless, writes Angus Johnston. Using current data, Wisconsin ties for 17th on the ACT. Very few Wisconsin students take the SAT. Texas ranks “45th on the SAT with 53% participation, 33rd on the ACT with 33% participation.”

In a follow-up post that serves as a statistics primer, Iowahawk breaks out ACT scores by race and ethnicity for Wisconsin and Texas and explains Simpson’s Paradox.

He also links to Michael Pollard’s NAEP analysis: “After controlling for ethnicity, compared to the running-dog Gang of Five non-collective bargaining states (TX, VA, SC, NC, GA), Wisconsin is a (1) middling performer for white students; (2) below middling for Hispanic students, and (3) an absolute disaster for black students.”

Pertussis is a disease of the wealthy

California’s whooping cough epidemic is centered in rich, white counties, reports the California Department of Public Health.

Affluent whites are “dumb enough to believe the anti-vaccine crap,” writes Instapundit.

Whooping cough rates are high for Latino babies under two months old,  but illness rates go down rapidly once babies are old enough for the pertussis vaccine.

Update: Middle-class English children are suffering from rickets because of overuse of sunscreen, doctors say.

Racial gap narrows for young students

Black and white students are improving in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  In math and fourth-grade reading, blacks narrowed achievement gaps. But the gap remains large, reports USA Today.  Progress for younger students often is lost in middle and high school.

It’s a start, responds Education Trust.  “In fourth-grade math, for example, average performance for African-American students on the 2007 main NAEP assessment is higher than the average for white students in 1990,” said president Kati Haycock.

Among 9-year-olds:

Compared to 1973, math gains for African-American students (34 points) and Latino students (32 points) have outpaced gains for white students (25 points). However, math scores for African-American and Latino students have not significantly improved since 2004.

Similarly, reading gains for African-American students (34 points) and Latino students (24 points) have outpaced gains for white students (14 points) since the beginning of the trend. Since 2004, scores for all groups of students have increased significantly.

However, the news is less rosy for 13-year-olds, Education Trust notes. And high school reading and math skills have “stagnated” for 35 years. As a result, “the skills of African-American and Latino 17-year-olds still lag about four years behind those of their white peers.”

Defense Department schools in the U.S. and overseas show the smallest gaps between black and white students.