Education in Oakland

The LA Times on Test Score Study

Posted by novometro on June 6, 2007

The Los Angeles Times reports Wednesday that proficiency for fourth graders rose between 2004 and 2006, but that the achievement gap separating races and income groups remained the same.


2 Responses to “The LA Times on Test Score Study”

  1. Ellen said

    This is not news. This is old news. Experience says kids will gradually raise scores. Teachers are constantly being pressured to teach “to the test”, though the state and districts would deny this. But, who’s monitoring the kids who have been falling through the cracks for years?

    With the test score gap increasing between races and income groups, the message is clear. Schools are good at teaching to kids who come to school from a mainstream background. But, schools are having trouble reaching diverse groups. This is the true gap – the political divide.

    Is it any wonder crime in Oakland is moving further into affluent areas (Piedmont Avenue, Montclair and Grand Lake businesses)? Until the state steps in to educate and support low income families, the trend cannot unwind itself.

    Imagine you are a fourth grader from a minority family. Your parents are having a hard time making ends meet. There is violence on the street around you, little nutritional food in the cupboard, stress at home. Do you care about filling in the right bubbles on some test? This is not a racist remark. This is how it is. And the state and schools need to remove their blindfolds and see the entire community they educate. Education should not be confind to the walls of a school. It should expand out into the neighborhoods that it represents. But, it can’t do this without the state’s support. Hey, where is that “education president” anyway?

  2. Deckin said

    One of things that needs to be discussed a propos of Ellen’s comments about the various achievement gaps in education is honestly to address the facts. The first fact is that the gaps are different. The achievement gap for Latinos is largely a result of testing different groups over time. With new immigration, of course the current crop at whatever grade is going to include substantial numbers of kids who haven’t spent much time in the system. If you actually follow the same cohort through their careers, the gap narrows considerably, and if you control for income, etc., practically disappears. I had a study to link showing this, but I can’t find it. Second, the African-American gap is much more recalcitrant and persists, even adjusting for socio-economic status. So Ellen’s comments implying that it’s socio-economics that’s too blame is too simplistic. Third, the gap in that case shows up as early as age 3 (!) and perhaps even earlier. By the time actual school (or even pre-school or Head Start) starts, kids are already hopelessly behind. The reasons for this are controversial, but what can be done? Take kids out of their families with no books, functionally illiterate parents, constant stress, etc.? The research is clear that well educated parents have kids who do better in school because they are well educated and pass along their habits of mind. There’s no obvious way you’re going to get uneducated people with little interest in it in their own lives to all of sudden get religion with their kids. I’m just not sure there’s anything government or schools or anything short of massive state intrusion into who is having kids and how they are raising them could change this by plan.

    Still, I do think, over time, it will change, but not because of policy, but because the costs of bearing children, to those ill equipped, will keep increasing. I think it’s already happening (look at what’s happened to teen pregnancies)–as soon as we stopped subsidizing girls to have babies they couldn’t possibly give a positive home to, people did what people always do: made a calculation and changed their habits. This will continue and the long term trends are really quite positive.

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