"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sensitivity, Texas Style

While we await Maggie Spellings's proclamation to the flooded lands on whether or not Katrina refugees will have add test taking this year to their other anxieties as they are dispersed from Maine to Idaho, the Dallas Morning News reports that Texas testing officials are showing off the same kind of care, concern, and sensitivity gained Barbara Bush high marks in her comments at the Astrodome last week.

Still debating whether or not the 38,000 Louisiana refugees will have to Texas high school exit exam, which is based on the Texas high school curriculum, Susan Barnes, Assistant Commissioner, intoned:
"I cannot really give any detail because we don't have anything really solid at this moment. . . . We're very aware of the concern. We certainly don't want to add to any of the difficulty the students have coming into our schools."
Both Texas and Louisiana crow about the high passing rates among their seniors--over 90% in both states. There is no mention, however, of minority passing rates, and there is concerted effort in both states to lie about the fact that a black youngster entering 9th grade this year in either state has about a 50-50 chance of graduating four years from now.

While the Texas lawyers and the Washington lawyers try to spin together the racist testing policies, they probably want to avoid Pearstein's piece in the Washington Post, especially this part of it:

Importantly, the lack of intergenerational mobility is strongest at the bottom and top.

A child born in the top 10 percent of households, as measured by income, has a 30 percent chance of ending up there -- and a 43 percent chance of attaining the top 20 percent. His probability of ending up in the lowest 20 percent is only 3.5 percent.

By contrast, a child in the poorest 10 percent of households has only a 1.3 percent chance of getting to the top decile, and a mere 4.3 percent chance of attaining the 20 percent. There's about an even chance he'll wind up in the bottom 20 percent, which is effectively in poverty. If he's black, the odds are even higher.

Wonder what role high stakes testing plays in making sure these boundaries are never crossed?

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