Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Can We See the Racism of Testing Now?

As California legislators ring their hands about how to avoid a lawsuit from disablility groups regarding the inherent discrimination of the proposed high school exit exam, perhaps they will consider these questions: Is Poverty a Disability? Does Poverty lead to large numbers of failures on these tests? Are these tests not a most useful tool to continue the racist oppression of failure and disenfranchisement that is packaged and sold as the way to bring about equality?

Consider these stats:
Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of blacks, 9 have high school exit exams. Five (*) of these ten make up half of the states that use a test to make promotion decisions in elementary grades.

Mississippi (1989)
Louisiana* (1991)
South Carolina* (1990)
Georgia* (1994)
Maryland (1982)
Alabama (1985)
North Carolina* (1982)
Virginia (1986)
Delaware* (No HS Test)
Tennessee (1986)

Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of hispanics, 8 have high school exit exams. Five (*) of these ten make up the other half of the 10 states that use a test to make promotion decisions in elementary grades.

New Mexico* (1990)
California* (2006)
Texas* (1987)
Arizona (2006)
Nevada (1981)
Colorado (no test)
Florida* (1979)
New York* (1980)
New Jersey (1985)
Illinois (no test)

Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of whites, only one (Minnesota) has a high school exit exam. None uses a test to determine grade promotion in elementary grades.
Maine (no HS test)
Vermont (no HS test)
New Hampshire (no HS test)
W. Virginia (no HS test)
Iowa (no HS test)
North Dakota (no HS test)
Montana (no HS test)
Kentucky (no HS test)
Wyoming (no HS test
Minnesota (2000)

The 10 states with the lowest graduation rates (Greene, 2002)--you guessed it. All of them have high school exit exams, and 9 of them have had exit exams for more than 10 years:

Georgia (1994)
Nevada (1981)
Florida (1979)
Arizona (2006)
Tennessee (1986)
S. Carolina (1990)
Mississippi (1989)
Alabama (1985)
North Carolina (1982)
New Mexico (1990)

2 comments:

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  2. Tennessee, unfortunately, does use tests to determine promotion in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade. There are ways around it (taking summer school and passing an alternative test at the end being the big one) but we've still had a few students who have gotten stuck in 3rd or 5th for a 3rd year-most have then been tested and found eligible for special education, skipping to the grade they would have been in had they not been retained in the process.

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