New Report on Black Male Achievement Reveals Jaw-Dropping Data
“Jaw dropping” implies surprise and I can’t imagine the Council of the Great City schools can possibly be surprised by the performance of black males on NAEP.
Only 12 percent of fourth grade black male students nationally and 11 percent of those living in large central cities performed at or above proficient levels in reading on the 2009 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), compared with 38 percent of white males nationwide. In eighth grade, only 12 percent of black males across the country and 10 percent living in large cities performed at or above proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white males nationwide.
It shouldn’t be surprising that NAEP scores are this low. They’ve been this low for quite some time. The relatively low scores are merely an indication that the NAEP is a more difficult or has lower cut scores (or both) than most assessments
And the achievement gap hovers at about a standard deviation between whites and blacks. That too is about where it always seems to be.
So, again, why the surprise?
In fact, the average African American fourth and eighth grade male who is neither poor nor disabled does no better in reading and math on NAEP than white males who are poor or disabled.
That’s not a surprising result either if you read this blog. (What? You think this is an economics blog or something?)
Although since this study is getting mainstream attention, I am curious to see how this fact will be reported.
The Times gets a talking head to spin it for them.
“There’s accumulating evidence that there are racial differences in what kids experience before the first day of kindergarten,” said Ronald Ferguson, director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard. “They have to do with a lot of sociological and historical forces. In order to address those, we have to be able to have conversations that people are unwilling to have.”
Those include “conversations about early childhood parenting practices,” Dr. Ferguson said. “The activities that parents conduct with their 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds. How much we talk to them, the ways we talk to them, the ways we enforce discipline, the ways we encourage them to think and develop a sense of autonomy.”
Apparently, those conversations won’t include any possible genetic effects. I suppose we’re still unwilling to have that that conversation.
Dr. Ferguson seems to be relying on the famous Hart & Risley study and fails to mention studies like the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study which showed that black adoptees failed to benefit from the language rich environment found in high-SES white homes.
The last seven paragraphs in the Times article are comedy gold if you know anything about economics. and incentives.