Thursday, May 29, 2014

Missouri uses flawed data to penalize poor, minority students : Stltoday

Missouri uses flawed data to penalize poor, minority students : Stltoday:

Missouri uses flawed data to penalize poor, minority students

140520 CA normandy 11
Gwendolyn Buggs, center, wearing a white headband, attends a meeting where Missouri State Board of Education members voted on the fate of the Normandy School District on Tuesday, May 20, 2014, at the Stoney Creek Inn in Columbia. Buggs was recently elected as a school district board member. Photo by Catalin Abagiu

oncerning Normandy’s suit against the Missouri Board of Education, it’s absolutely necessary to point out the elephant in the room: The method for evaluating school districts and thus removing accreditation and ultimately dissolving a district is based on faulty data that discriminate against poor children and especially minority children.
It’s not as if we couldn’t see this coming. What did the state do with the schools and students in Wellston when that district was dissolved? They were merged into Normandy. And now the state wants to dissolve Normandy. What’s wrong with this picture? What district do the vultures want to pick off next?
Elisa Crouch and Walker Moskop’s well-written story on May 18, “The grade divide,” about the struggle to educate children in poverty, clearly revealed the problem that children from low-income families do poorly on standardized tests. Not that they don’t or can’t learn, but that their test scores are low.
Studies show that the test format itself and especially the conditions under which the test is administered increase the odds that children in minorities will get low scores (see “Stereotypes and the Achievement Gap: Stereotype Threat Prior to Test Taking,” Markus Appel, Nicole Dronberger, Education Psychology Review, 2012.) In that study the Austrian researchers tested African-American students in the United States, Turkish students in Eastern Europe and others with “an immigration background” that labored under negative stereotypes. They found that if the tests were presented to such students as having high stakes — and what could be higher than branding an entire school as deficient? — performance went down even further.
I see three problems here: Evaluation of districts is based on faulty, discriminatory data; the state is using that faulty data to penalize poor children by attacking their schools, especially school districts that have a majority of African-American students; that attack has resulted in the dissolution of one district already, the attempted dissolution of a second district and the threat to continue until all school districts with minority majority enrollments and a majority of poor children have been taken away from their constituents and handed over to for-profit (i.e., charter) operations.
This is a racially tinged class struggle. Let’s quit talking about transportation costs and get to the point: This accreditation Missouri uses flawed data to penalize poor, minority students : Stltoday: