ONTD Political

Virginia to Have Low Expectations for Minority Students :-/

2:43 pm - 08/26/2012
Virginia New Achievement Standards Based On Race And Background



Virginia's new achievement standards have raised eyebrows.

Part of the state's new standards dictate a specific percentage of racial group that should pass school exams, a move that has angered the Virginia Black Caucus. The caucus' chairwoman, Democratic state Sen. Mamie Locke, says the new standards marginalize students by creating different goals for students of various backgrounds.

"Nothing is going to work for me if there is a differentiation being established for different groups of students," Locke told the Daily Press. "Whether that's race, socio-economic status or intellectual ability. If there is a differentiation, I have a problem with it."

Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornash disagrees with Virginia Black Caucus' assertions.

"Please be assured that the McDonnell administration does not hold a student of a particular race or income level, or those of any other subgroup, to a different standard," Fornash wrote in a three-page letter explaining the changed standards.

The standards do not pose different pass rates for different groups: regardless of race, each student has to correctly answer the same number of test questions in order to pass. The difference lies in the expectation of passing from groups of different backgrounds. The new rules were designed as part of Virginia's waiver from No Child Left Behind, along with 31 other states and Washington, D.C.

For instance, only 45 percent of black students are required to pass the math state test while 82 percent for Asian Americans, 68 percent for whites and 52 percent for Hispanics are required to pass. In reading, 92 percent of Asian students, 90 percent of white students, 80 percent of hispanic students, 76 percent of black students, and 59 percent of students with disabilities are required to pass the state exam.

The state says these percentages are based on previous pass rates for the various groups, but many school officials aren't satisfied, saying that if the state expects less performance from a particular group of students, they will lose the motivation to perform better.

Educator Carolyn J. Smith told Pilot Online that the focus should be on boosting performance in underperforming racial groups rather than expecting less.

"The ones in the lower grades, if they don't feel like they can do math, they'll give up," Smith told Virginian-Pilot columnist Roger Chelsey, "And some parents say, 'I can't do math, either.'"

This belief then becomes a legacy, according to Smith, a cycle that one has to break as early as the child's first year in school.

The issue of black and Hispanic students underperforming their Asian and white counterparts might have more to do with segregation and expectations than ability.

According to author and presidential professor at the University of California, Los Angeles Jeannie Oakes eliminating traditional tracking methods that measure performance based on race is particularly important to guaranteeing equal success among different races.

“Once we put students in groups, we give them very different opportunities to learn -- with strong patterns of inequality across teachers, experience, and competence," Oakes says. "There was this pervasive view that Latino and African American kids can’t measure up in a way that more affluent or white kids can and we can’t do anything about it.”

If the standards are set this way, students as well as teachers begin believing and fulfilling the prophesy, according to author andfreelance writer Julie Halpert.

"...With little motive to succeed academically, the children didn’t get high grades or score well on standardized tests," Halpert says. "In other words, they performed exactly as the teachers predicted, in response to the climate of low expectations."

Instead, many educators believe "detracking" or "heterogeneous or mixed-ability grouping" ensures success across racial lines. Though the practice of detracking is still contested, some educators believe lowering expectations should simply not be an option.

Mary T. Christian, a career educator and member of the Hampton NAACP's education committee, said she's shocked at the low pass rates for some groups.

"Lower expectations are detrimental to students' growth," said Mary Christian, career educator as well as former state legislator. When you lower expectations, there is no challenge. Students and teachers will do the minimum."

The Source seems to have a video that has been region-blocked, so I didn't watch it.
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thenakedcat 26th-Aug-2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
....The fuck did I just read.

WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST READ.

I can understand giving a FAIL to a school that passes as a whole but has its poor scores concentrated among minority students, because that could indicate systematic neglect of their needs. BUT SAYING THAT IT'S OKAY IF LESS THAN HALF THE BLACK STUDENTS CAN DO MATH AT GRADE LEVEL BECAUSE THAT'S HOW IT'S ALWAYS BEEN? FUCK YOURSELVES WITH A PINECONE, VIRGINIA BOARD OF ED.
layweed 26th-Aug-2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
IKR? Setting low expectations and goals as a student is bad enough, but for legislators (or educators) to do this for an entire state education system? WTF????? Lowering standards as opposed to raising/improving the quality of education might be easier but it sure as hell doesn't solve the problem.
tiddlywinks103 27th-Aug-2012 12:50 am (UTC)
SO. RACIST.
pleasure_past 27th-Aug-2012 12:59 am (UTC)
Ugh. This is such bullshit. Study after study after study has shown that kids will perform to expectations. If you expect only 45% of Black kids to pass this test, only 45% of Black kids are going to pass this test. Because, you know, it's hard to find the motivation to even try when everyone from your teacher to your goddamn government is saying that you can't do it anyway.

Incidentally, how the fuck does this work for kids with a mixed racial background? Are kids that are half-Black and half-Asian expected to pass the math test 45%, 82%, or 63% of the time? Or is refusing to believe that mixed-race people exist just another fail here?
etherealtsuki 27th-Aug-2012 02:06 am (UTC)
Incidentally, how the fuck does this work for kids with a mixed racial background? Are kids that are half-Black and half-Asian expected to pass the math test 45%, 82%, or 63% of the time? Or is refusing to believe that mixed-race people exist just another fail here?

No, they will based it on how they look really.

A lot of biracial or multiracial kids with Black ancestry and look Black will tell you that they will be treated no differently than a Black person who have no or distant multiracial ties. Look at Obama or even Tiger Woods. Both have multiracial background but never treated anything other than a Black man (and why Obama refers himself as a Black man because a vast majority will never acknowledge he is biracial.)

It's sad, but that's the truth.
flcadam 27th-Aug-2012 01:06 am (UTC)
This story is interesting and gave me a lot to think about. I think that this is just another real consequence of standardized testing. These schools don't have the ability to address racial disparities in performance because a great deal of the problem starts out at home. If you're holding a school accountable for problems they can't fix, they probably are going to get desperate and pull stunts like this.

This is a blatant case where a desperate district is lowering standards to accommodate for racial disparities. But it happens on a subtle level across the country. One recent example would be the rampant cheating in Atlanta. In my own states, school administrators were caught fudging with the scores of inner-city schools. They're pretty much sending the same message that they don't have what it takes to improve the performance of minority students at the level that is expected.

Given the political climate in this country and the fiscal realities faced by most school districts, I don't really see any good fixes for the gaps in achievement. The only solution I have when it comes to public school is to send your kids to private school so they don't go down with the ship. :-/

amyura 27th-Aug-2012 01:42 am (UTC)
If you're holding a school accountable for problems they can't fix, they probably are going to get desperate and pull stunts like this.

The SCHOOLS are NOT the ones pulling this stunt. It's the state government. The state board of education is not a school, it's part of the state government. The schools generally have to do what the state board of ed tells them.
amyura 27th-Aug-2012 01:43 am (UTC)
OMG this is disgusting. Fucking disgusting. That's all I've got right now.
lithiumflower 27th-Aug-2012 02:00 am (UTC)
...how is this even legal? I mean, just, what?

My sister is still in school in Virginia and she has to go through this disaster of SOL (Virgnia's name for their standardized test) mess every year. I absolutely hate the school she is in now, although the school system is in her area has gotten so bad (they're closing two schools due to budget mismanagement), I don't think she'd be better off in one of the other two middle schools.

None of her classes have textbooks. None of them. The teachers have handouts and notes tailored specifically to the SOL. It makes it difficult for my parents to help her with her homework because if she misses something while she's taking her notes, they don't have a textbook to look in to supplement what she missed. It's even worse for math, because let's face it, as parents get older they forget the details when it comes to math. Lowest common denominators, reciprocals, scientific notation, etc, they forget. Since she has no math textbook, they don't have anything to read to refresh their memory and try to teach her what she didn't pick up in class, so they end up calling me (not that I mind, but teaching math over the phone is not ideal).

I can't fault her for missing things in class because the teachers have targets for what they must cover by a certain date. They don't teach for understanding, they teach to put a checkmark saying they covered it. I can't necessarily blame them that much for it, since two weeks before the SOLs, rather than reviewing what's going to be on the tests, she's still having new material crammed down her throat everyday for things that are going to be on the SOL.

Further, by lowering the number required to pass for black and latino students, all it does is give schools more incentive to track white and asian students into academically gifted programs and give up on the other students, leaving them in overcrowded and poorly taught classrooms while they rely on the scores of the students in the gifted programs to maintain the school's accreditation rating.

Edited at 2012-08-27 02:05 am (UTC)
zinnia_rose 27th-Aug-2012 02:03 am (UTC)
What the everloving FUCK. This is NOT the way to go about closing the achievement gap, for god's sakes.
ajremix 27th-Aug-2012 02:09 am (UTC)
Holy fucking Model Minority bullshit, Batman!

82% passing for math and 92% passing for reading just for Asians? That's not going to give those kids a fucking complex if they don't do well in one or both subjects. Can you imagine the pressure teachers worried about their precious percentiles would be putting on them? On top of those that get it from their parents?

I'm so glad I no longer have family going to school in Virginia, especially my cousin with the distant father that got overbearing about dumb shit like this.
pleasure_past 27th-Aug-2012 03:48 am (UTC)
God help you if you're one of eleven or fewer Asian kids in your school. "The entire school will be held accountable if even one of you underpreforms on this reading test! But, you know, try not to stress yourselves out over it..."
metatrix 27th-Aug-2012 02:22 am (UTC)
No Child Left Behind was such a terrible failure of a program.
pleasure_past 27th-Aug-2012 03:50 am (UTC)
Why do we still have it? Like, are there actually people out there who are willfully ignorant enough to think even that it's not doing any harm, let alone that it's actually working?
tabaqui 27th-Aug-2012 04:27 am (UTC)
As if the fuckery of standard testing couldn't get worse, now it's standardized failure, and if a certain percentage of kids fail, it *won't even matter*, they're just meeting the expected goal.

This is so fucking sick. WTH are we doing to our kids.
pepsquad 27th-Aug-2012 05:00 am (UTC)
at my most recent safe zone/cultural proficiency panel meeting, we read an academic paper, the process of the paper was that testing = academic eugenics, especially high stakes graduation requirement tests at the high school level. i'll see if i can find the paper it was super well done.
metatrix 27th-Aug-2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
I'd be really interested in that. If you can't find the paper, can you at least explain the gist of it?

Personally, I'm hugely in favour of standardized testing, although I don't think that school funding should be contingent on how students score (actually I think it should be the opposite...schools that score badly on standardized tests should be allocated MORE funds and resources, because clearly they need it...)
maenads_dance 27th-Aug-2012 08:52 am (UTC)
Extraordinary. What an extraordinary way to justify, and then solidify, the status quo.

I'm speechless.
msdevin92 27th-Aug-2012 01:48 pm (UTC)
only 45 percent of black students are required to pass the math state test while 82 percent for Asian Americans, 68 percent for whites and 52 percent for Hispanics are required to pass. In reading, 92 percent of Asian students, 90 percent of white students, 80 percent of hispanic students, 76 percent of black students, and 59 percent of students with disabilities are required to pass the state exam

Not to give a cookie-cutter response or anything, but what the fuck is this?
poopanna 27th-Aug-2012 02:05 pm (UTC)
My dad went to being a teacher in Camden, NJ (for 30 years) to a teacher in southern VA. He talked about corruption when he was in Jersey and he's talking about corruption and stupidity down in VA.
kitanabychoice 27th-Aug-2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
So basically it reads to me like this:

We expect blacks and Latinos to fail, by slightly different margins, so let's set their expectations at the failure line. Whites are pretty average, so let's set the expectation at average. We expect Asians to generally excel at everything, so let's set their expectation bar to 1 million.

And frankly, that's fucking racist against practically everybody involved. What we should be doing is fostering the same expectations of everyone and then improving our curriculum to teach concepts, critical thinking, and fact-finding skills rather than teaching details and formulas by rote and hoping people remember it after cramming for a multiple-choice scantron test. Bring back the essay questions, at least. -_-

Edited at 2012-08-27 04:28 pm (UTC)
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