Archive for Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Concerns are voiced on test-score gap

Administrators and parents discuss ways to boost minority results

March 1, 2006


The gap in school test scores between white and minority students is growing, and the Lawrence school district - teachers and parents included - needs a way to address the issue, district officials said.

"Clearly we have a problem," Bruce Passman, the district's deputy superintendent, said Tuesday night during a discussion of the topic at the district service center, 110 McDonald Drive.

The Lawrence-Douglas County NAACP and the Lawrence Public Library sponsored the forum. Teachers and parents filled the audience.

The gap in standardized test scores between white and minority students can't be explained away, Passman said, because a variety of factors enter into the testing. Motivation and attitude factor in, especially at the high school level, where results between white and minority students vary drastically.

"That concerns us," Passman said. "That tells us something."

But, he said, the results are real and valid, leaving the district with troubling questions about how teachers instruct students, and how the tests themselves reflect a student's abilities.

Teachers on the panel Tuesday said the testing process often was frustrating. There have been three major revisions to standard math and reading tests, including at the advent of the No Child Left Behind Act, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2002.

The No Child Left Behind Act put new emphasis on standardized testing, holding teachers accountable for their students' scores regardless of individual considerations. The tests are typically given once in elementary school, once in middle school and again in high school.

Joe Snyder, principal at Free State High School, said test score reliability also hinged on the access students have to the specific material covered on the test. With so many changes, schools have a difficult time keeping up.

So how do the tests reflect a student's abilities?

"It may not be a true indicator of what they know," said Steve Nilhas, principal of Lawrence High School.

Rather, the tests - and the wide racial gap - may indicate certain environmental pressures students from different races or economic classes feel in school. Or they simply may show how well they do on tests.

"This is not about intelligence," former LHS administrator Willie Amison said from the crowd.

Amison said to close the gap, black and other minority students would have to deal with the culture that builds up around minority or at-risk kids.

Cathy White agreed. The Prairie Park School teacher said many minority students did well in school, and there should be some kind of dialogue between all minority students to find out why some kids thrive while others struggle.

Chances are, White said, it has to do with culture. Many students perceive doing well in school with acting white or uppity - and in doing so ostracizing themselves from their peers.

"How do you deal with this? I have no clue," White said.


savethedaffy 12 years, 3 months ago

I don't feel that these standardized tests really reflect how intelligent or educated a student is. For instance, I scored in the 'Unsatisfactory' category on the Kansas State Math Assesment of the 2004-2005 school year. However, did that ranking reflect my grade in my math class? No, it did not. My grade was an A. However, I am a year behind in math. So while students who were enrolled in Alegbra 2 and taking the state assesment, I was in Geometry. They had received an entire semester and half of Algebra 2. I hadn't learned any Algebra 2. I could be caught up, but...counselors failed to mention that grades permitting, I could take two math classes in one year. I wonder how kids in the minority who were also a year behind in math scored.

mcoan 12 years, 3 months ago

"Stop thinking you're such a thug, and actually study. Stop skipping school to go hang with your "h**s" and smoking and selling your dope so you can afford the "bling-bling" and maybe you'll actually get somewhere."

And the award for Most Racist Comment of The Day goes surprise here folks, bankboy119.

Where on earth does this rightwing wackjob get his stereotypes? From 1955 Mississippi? So offensive...if he wasn't anonymous, he'd probably be dead.

By the way, if his offensive message disappears, it's because I "suggested removal."

daddax98 12 years, 3 months ago

yeah BB we those 4th graders need to stop going after the bling bling and selling dope that will get those test scores right up.....idiot

Richard Boyd 12 years, 3 months ago

I graduated recently from KU,

Mr Amison stated, "This is not about intelligence," I agree, I lived in student housing for FOUR years with "continentals"(as the Students from Africa refer to themselves) my friends one from Uganda and the other Senegal. I found these students to be beyond measure bright and high academic achievers (in fact THIS student in NO measure could have done well in Calculus without the loving intervention of my Ugandan roomie). My friend from Uganda talked at quite a bit about this subject. He told me on several occasions, "I am often mystified at the attitude of many black people in your country, they view teachers as adversaries"... "I simply do not understand"

This point of view fits nicely with Ms White's comments, "Many students perceive doing well in school with acting white or uppity - and in doing so ostracizing themselves from their peers."

Is there something in the system that society intends to be helpful, a "support system" perhaps, that has the unintended consequences of making minority young people feel out of place?


Confrontation 12 years, 3 months ago

bankboy119--I'm sure you are white boy ( I won't say Man) who had everything handed to you on a silver platter. You wouldn't be able to understand real struggle, even if it slapped you on the face. Go back to reading your white power websites, and please stay out of intellectual discussions.

mom_of_three 12 years, 3 months ago

Mrs. White's comments are true for peer pressure in general. Talking to students is a great idea, but I am surprised no one hasn't already done a study since this appears to be an on going issue.

bankboy119 12 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Trey Wiley 12 years, 3 months ago

I thought that in our enlightened society we were trying to achieve a color blind world. Why do these tests even have the ability to segregate people scores by race? It seems counter to what we are trying to achieve by eliminating racisim. I for one think it would be more important to find out why any student is scoring low and work out a solution. It would then be up to the student to score better. Why does it matter if the student is a minority. Aren't we concerned for all students?

daddax98 12 years, 3 months ago

trey I think you miss the point. It is not that the majority of minority students score poorly it is that the majority of students that score poorly are minorities.

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