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Racial achievement gap

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[Mpls] Racial achievement gap, Schapiro's comment

Socialist2001 at Socialist2001 at
Mon Oct 11 22:41:34 CDT 2004

Strib Question: What specific steps would you advocate to reduce or eliminate 
                  the racial achievement gap in Minneapolis schools?
                  "From 60 to 90 percent of the gap, researchers say, is tied to family, 
                  community and neighborhood. A good analysis is in Richard Rothstein's "Class and 
                  Schools." In "The Black-White Test Score Gap," Christopher Jencks and Meredith 
                  Phillips concluded that only two strategies are promising: Better early 
                  childhood education and more support for families." - Dennis Schapiro
                  Not all researchers say that 60 to 90% of the gap is tied to family, 
                  community and neighborhood. The research that I've seen suggests that more than 50% of 
                  the gap is due to the quality of instruction that students receive at school, 
                  and that schools have some influence, for better or worse, on the culture of 
                  the community and neighborhoods they serve. 
                  >From the Minnesota Public Radio web site: "Are you experienced? Teachers with 
                  less than three years of experience are twice as likely to work in schools 
                  with high proportions of minority and low income students, yet students learn 
                  better under teachers with five or more years of experience." [two sources 
                  In a 1997 report, "Doing What Matters Most: Investing in quality teaching," 
                  Linda Darlington Hammond cited an analysis of data from 900 Texas school 
                  districts by Ronald Ferguson and others, which concluded that about 40% of the 
                  variance in measured achievement in math and English in grades 1 to 11 can be 
                  attributed to teacher expertise, as measured by scores on licensing exams, masters 
                  degrees and years of experience. 
                  In a Frontline interview, Christopher Jencks stated that "the gap" decreased 
                  significantly during the 1980s, judging by National Assessment of Educational 
                  Progress exams in reading and math, and by other measures. See: Frontline 
                  Interview with Christopher Jencks  
                  In the same Frontline interview, Jencks also stated he believes that the gap 
                  is probably due entirely to environmental factors rather than genes, and that 
                  attributing the black-white gap to effects of culture is not unlike blaming 
                  the gap on genetics, in as much as it is something about which one can't do much 
                  to change. 
                  I have noted that the difference in average scores on NAEP reading exams for 
                  (non-hispanic) black and white 13 year olds decreased by about 50% between 
                  1970 and 1988. The gap in math scores also decreased during that time, but not to 
                  the same degree. The gap in both areas has widened since the late 1980s.
                  I believe that school reforms can eliminate much of the racial learning gap. 
                  However, the political establishment (including the leadership of the 
                  Democratic and Republican parties) has opted for strategies that are ineffective and 
                  efficient. And the same political establishment has opted to do very little to 
                  enforce fair employment and housing laws. 
                  Also see "The Black-White Test Score Gap" by Richard Rothstein
                  -Doug Mann, King Field
                  write in "Doug Mann" for school board 

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