Friday, October 30, 2015

Talking Turkey on SC's NEAP Results Among the Poor and Black

"South Carolina's fourth- and eighth graders produced a mixed bag of results on federal math and reading exams this year. ranking in the bottom third nationwide based on their performance," write the P & C's reporters. While they also showed that SC's ranking among states teetered from 38th to 39th to 40th on various parts of the National  Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP), perhaps they might have pointed out that SC usually ranks third from the bottom on many measures--thank you Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.

What is more troubling about the results is that the gap in scores between white and black students stubbornly remains stable. Yes, as one researcher proclaims, such rankings should take into account "differences in demographics and other student characteristics." Any state approaching the poverty rate and percentage of minority students evinced in South Carolina appears on the same track.

And that precisely is the problem.

Schools whose students score well also correlate well with white and reasonably well-off neighborhoods; for schools that score poorly, the opposite is true. What ever happened to the idea that a child from a poor and undereducated background could hope to compete with those unhampered with such drawbacks? 

The schools we have do not level the playing field. Too long educrats have relied on the students' backgrounds to make their schools look good. It's time to figure out how to create a learning environment that will fulfill the American Dream.

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