My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Oh, Yeah--This Will Help

The gap between black students' scores and the Denver Public Schools average has grown or stayed the same since 2002 on more than half of the 22 state exams administered last year in reading, writing and math.

A group of the city's black leaders gathered Monday to demand an explanation

Maybe I'm just too jaded by watching two decades of Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton-style grandstanding on racial issues, but it seems to me that "demanding" an explanation from the school district goes a long way towards pushing responsibility AWAY from the students, parents and community. This, from the same people who I'm quite certain would fight tooth and nail to prevent the schools from taking just the sort of steps it really needs to take to close that gap--that is, early intervention, ability-grouping, and serious remediation with a sincere focus on achievement, not emotional well-being. Of course, this course of action is one that, I'm sure, would be decried as "disproportionately stigmatizing black children."

For anyone seriously interested in data-driven approaches to closing achievement gaps and increasing achievement all around, one organization that I know of which is doing excellent research on the topic is the Education Trust, which you can find at this link.

Why do I think this is likely not to be helpful? Reading further, you find out that

But 2004 and 2002 racial breakdowns of CSAP data provided Monday by the district showed that the gap grew between black students' proficiency rates and the district average on nine of 22 reading, writing and math exams. It stayed the same on five more.

"Seems like parents have given up," said news conference participant Menola Upshaw, president of the Denver Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "Teachers have given up."

On a more positive note, black students now score at the district average on fourth- and ninth-grade writing.

They exceed the district average in fourth-, sixth- and ninth-grade reading.

Which, if I'm doing my math right, means that the gap closed on eight of twenty-two tests; it also begs the question (rather than a demand) what are they doing well on those levels where they exceed the district. Also, if the NAACP assessment is that everybody's goven up, then her demand must be that the bureaucracy do something--isn't that always the solution for liberals?

I wonder why they don't ask the parents what they think should be done? Could it be that they're afraid the answer will be "give me choice?"; could it be that they're afraid that, in a district that is 57% Hispanic, black parents would prefer that their children go to a school where English is the primary language, and that maybe--just maybe--that might contribute to higher achievement in reading and writing?

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