Opinion: Holding poor children accountable for a test score is unfair

This is a long piece by a scientist on the external factors that undermine student learning. I am increasingly realizing our mantra to poor kids can’t simply be, “Work harder and you will overcome all the obstacles in your path and succeed.”

Do a handful of poor kids do just that? Yes, but they are the exceptions as are high school runners with a 4-minute mile or valedictorians with perfect SAT and ACT scores. We can admire these preternatural talents, but we should not pretend they are the exemplars.

Before anyone counters that poverty did not hold back kids a generation ago, it did. It went unnoticed  because many poor kids, especially in Georgia, disappeared early from school radar, dropping out after eighth grade.

I read an interesting piece a few weeks ago by an urban teacher tired of people telling her students they weren’t prepared to face the “real world.” Her students cope with life-challenging circumstances — parents in prison, homelessness, violence, neglect and abuse — most adults in the “real world” never experience first-hand, she said.

Emory professor Bryan Williams is an epidemiologist whose research has focused in the areas of perinatal, pediatric and environmental epidemiology and policy.

By Bryan Williams

Accountability, an idea so powerful that it creates state and national offices whose main purpose is to ensure its place in the public education system.  Just as the Cold War fostered the rise of the “military industrial complex,” America’s perceived inferiority to educational outcomes in other countries has spawned the “accountability complex.”

This accountability complex equates responsibility with student achievement. It holds students, parents, and teachers personally responsible for failure despite the reality that causes of student failure are well beyond their personal control.

Students shoulder much of the burden, particularly students who often have the least amount of power to change their circumstances. The majority of the children attending the nation’s public schools are impoverished, lacking not only capacity for accountability but the power to advocate for reform. In Georgia, as is true in much of the South, more than 60 percent of children attending public schools are from low- income families.

This begs the question, how can we hold children and families accountable for a test score, when we do not hold systems and policymakers accountable for meeting the basic economic and health needs of our most vulnerable populations? Accountability is necessary but students should not be the only focus.

Accountability is not achieved by “blaming the victim.” A narrative that characterizes children as undisciplined, parents as apathetic, and teachers as ineffective does not increase accountability, it only fosters resentment and despair.

Schools are filled with students for whom achievement is secondary to chronic illness, family violence, or homelessness.  About 12 percent of children born in the U.S. are born prematurely, a condition that is strongly associated with poor educational achievement. In urban areas, prematurity rates often approach 20 percent. How can these children be held accountable for achievement, when we are not accountable for meeting their most basic needs? Think all children start out equally?

kidsonpencilsTouring a large urban neonatal intensive care unit where numerous critically ill infants so small they can fit in a shirt pocket will quickly dissuade one of that thought. Georgia’s School Superintendent Richard Woods, recently acknowledged that we do not need a “measure, pressure, and punish” model that sets our students, teachers, and schools up for failure….”

We are not just failing students in the classroom, we are failing to give them a real opportunity to succeed, irrespective of socioeconomic inequities. Poor educational achievement is endemic in Georgia. The achievement gap is wide in our state.

In 2013, whites scored 29 points higher than blacks on 8th grade standardized math tests. More than two-thirds of Georgia’s fourth graders are not proficient readers. The quality of Georgia’s state school systems was ranked 35th in the nation.

Students who are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch had an average score fourth grade math score 25 points lower than students­­ who were not eligible for this program.

The economic and health gap is even larger. According to the 2013 American Community survey, about 23 percent of Georgia’s children live in poverty. Kids Count ranks Georgia as 42nd in overall child well-being.  Almost 13 percent of all and 16 percent of African-American children born in Georgia are born prematurely. Our rate of prematurity is among the worst in the nation, as noted by the March of Dimes who recently gave Georgia a “C” for its prematurity rates, a specific risk factor for poor educational attainment. Many Georgia children do not have access to health care. Almost 12 percent of Georgia’s children do not have health insurance.

Decreasing inequities in health and economic conditions among Georgia’s children holds higher priority than high test scores. Holding impoverished, disadvantaged, and powerless children accountable for a test score is simply unfair. Is it a child’s fault that he comes to school sick, hungry, or neglected? Should a child who is born prematurely or has other morbidities be expected to perform as well as a healthy child, especially when such morbidities go unnoticed? Is a child culpable for ineffective classroom instruction?

There are numerous other mitigating circumstances that undermine the fairness of the accountability complex. Yet, there is no system in place to address these circumstances in a proactive manner.

Systems not children are ultimately accountable for the achievement gap. A sick or hungry child is at high risk for failure. Far too many of Georgia’s children fit that description. Almost 60 percent of Georgia’s children are eligible for free or reduced lunch. About 39 percent of Georgia’s children rely upon public health insurance. Accountable and effective systematic support of a child’s educational achievement extends well beyond pedagogy; it ensures a child’s basic needs are met. Many child illnesses are not readily apparent like physical or mental disabilities but hinder achievement nonetheless. My research has demonstrated that being born just a few weeks early can increase a child’s probability of failing our state’s standardized exams in the third grade.

Accountable systems are accountable for effectively preparing teachers. Georgia has only one teacher preparation program that ranks in the top 50 in the nation, with most ranking in the bottom of the nation and many lacking merits that warrant a ranking.

Accountable systems neither tolerate nor sustain teacher preparation programs that do not produce effective educators. Arguably we hold primary and secondary school students to a higher standard than those responsible for teaching them. Although heretical to mention but well known in education circles, primary and middle school children are taught by individuals with little or no exposure to said content.

For example, students in many elementary school teacher preparation programs are required to take very few if any courses in mathematics. How then can we expect a child to test well on content poorly understood by his teacher? Despite poor preparation, we get better teachers than a system like this deserves. Luckily many teachers hold themselves to a higher level of accountability than that required of them in college or their current work settings.

Accountable systems provide equitable support and autonomy. School districts in Georgia vary considerably in both their financial support from the state and their influence over state level policy. According to the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute in 2013, there are more than 20 schools districts in Georgia where low-income students make up at least 80 percent of the total enrollment.

Taliaferro County, a district with 94 percent of its students who are eligible for free lunch received the highest per student, cut in funding in 2013. How can we expect the students in this small community of Taliaferro County to perform at the same level as those who are enrolled in more highly funded schools?

Disparate systemic support for schools is obvious in large suburban districts like Gwinnett County Public Schools. GCPS is often lauded as the great innovator in the state and apparently compensated as such by the state. GCPS receives supplemental financial support ($65 million in 2014) in the name of “equalization” that supposedly takes into account a district’s ability to pay.

Georgia’s equalization formula is driven by both property tax rates and number of students. Consequently, unless there are increases in property taxes in the large Atlanta-Metro suburban communities or decreases in enrollment, equalization funds will always be directed to large school districts irrespective of how they perform.

The fairness of this policy has been criticized and some districts are calling for reform. It is difficult to believe that GCPS is in greater need of supplemental funding than say Clarke County, for example. According to GBPI, about 82 percent of Clarke’s students are economically disadvantaged, as opposed to about 56 percent in GCPS; yet, since 2002-2014 Clarke’s per FTE funding has decreased by about 19 percent as opposed to only about 3 percent in GCPS.

One would expect GCPS students to perform well given its economic challenges are relatively small compared to that of other counties throughout the state. However, GCPS’s performance does not warrant disproportionate compensation. Additionally, GCPS’s performance is less impressive when compared to other large suburban school districts nationally. While Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology performs extraordinarily, this small charter school represents the only high school in Gwinnett that does so at an elite level.

According to U.S. News and World Report, GCPS does not have another high school that breaks the top 500 in national rankings. In contrast, the Fairfax County School District in my home state of Virginia has 10 high schools that were awarded Gold Medals for their performance nationally.

Performance within GCPS is also highly variable with some of the more affluent high schools performing much worse than schools with significant economic burdens. GCPS schools that perform highly despite economic burdens should be given more autonomy and financial support.

The public discourse around accountability must change. We talk as if we are starting a war on “bad test scores.”   History teaches us that wars on social problems are often ineffective. Current discourse incites state systems to target poor performing schools as enemies of the state that must be confronted, taken over, or punished. Poor test scores are insufficient conditions for such a war, and children are never the enemy. Children are better served by redirecting our aggression towards system-level, population-based change.

Georgia’s recent emphasis on school climate is a step in the right direction. Using accountability metrics such as School Climate Star Ratings and Beating the Odds acknowledge the importance of factors not within a student’s control including health, safety, teacher perceptions, and disciplinary patterns of the school.

The evidence suggests that if we invest in school climate school performance will improve as a consequence. However, school climate must be expanded beyond its current definition. Community level factors such as poor maternal and child health, transportation, housing, and crime can and do present often insurmountable obstacles for a child’s education.  Changing these factors requires community level accountability and engagement.

 

Reader Comments 0

124 comments
Oscellia
Oscellia

Stop for God sake labeling these kids. I am sure your child has been given assistant on a test at some point even if they were allowed to use their notes or books. Were they labeled as poor kids or labeled at all. 


No one has said the children did not pass the test, what has been said is the teacher assisted. By helping the children the scores were increased.


The children could have been retested but the System was too busy stoning our Black teachers.


Further something is clearly wrong with this picture, you want me to believe it is just our teachers cheating and our children that need assistance, really.


And it is a pitiful  when parents do not know their child cannot read ...this goes back to Kindergartner. Let's use a little common sense.


For every parent that is complaining about their child being assisted on a test, it was not about your child. It was about the Schools Performance. It was about a teacher having a job, getting a raise in pay, being able to take care of her family. You know she/he could be a single parent.

.

Wake up when has the System cared about us and now they are calling our children poor.


We need to wake up, do not accept this pity party, what do you think you are going to get out of this?


They love to label us.


Do not allow your child to labeled anything but a Human Being, because they are also saying your child is dumb.


Why label your child just because a teacher assisted your child on a test.


Now they are Poor!




dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Poor children have succeeded in US schools for 200+ years.  And they do even today - especially those who come from families that have recently come "across a large body of water" to immigrate here.  Please quit with the excuses.  


Now...if you want to push for so called "community leaders" to stop making excuses, and start pushing parents and kids from poor communities to take advantage of the oppty being provided (for free!) to them, go for it.  


That's the real issue.  The poverty smokescreen is exactly that - and a convenient canard to excuse lack of effort and priority.

BearCasey
BearCasey

@dcdcdc  A few poor children succeeded a hundred years ago.  Most dropped out.  Look at the stats.

gactzn2
gactzn2

@BearCasey @dcdcdc Good point Bear. It is about the culture at home.  A desire to learn has to be cultivated- not legislated.

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

We have so many social, political and economic issues in our country and we cannot seem to agree on anything. It really is disturbing. How have we become so divided ?

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

@Maureen: you ask

"Do we help those kids or do we write them off, believing it falls on their own reserves, their own perseverance to get themselves out? "



Today's author notes that 


"The majority of the children attending the nation’s public schools are impoverished ..... In Georgia, as is true in much of the South, more than 60 percent of children attending public schools are from low- income families.


... how can we hold children and families accountable for a test score, when we do not hold systems and policymakers accountable for meeting the basic economic and health needs of our most vulnerable populations?


...Systems not children are ultimately accountable for the achievement gap."


In a sincere attempt to answer your question, what you see is posters railing against the "system" that fosters large numbers of children born to poor single mothers. These children are the symptom.  The causes are the social mores and government programs that allow/enable large numbers of children to be born with two strikes (no married father at home, which makes it very likely that they will be poor as well) against them.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Popatroll, Even with my poor spelling. I can buy and sale you.  My own name on this attack. Where is yours? You should keep sweeping kitty.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Asstro......good to hear from you. I check for you and a few others everyday. Public school teachers can't tell you the truth. I can because I have no school board on my tail. You are sick and twisted. I think you should right a book. See you here everyday. My nonsense is as good as yours. Keep hiding kitty.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Mandodo....Ukunet......Asroslop......Private schools do so much better at catering to little snots like you, or yours. Thank you for not attending public school. We all know private schools have never cheated, or molested, or covered up drug use, or any of those public school problems. You people are whats wrong with this world. ME. ME. ME! Your parents should taught you better.

Astropig
Astropig

@JBBrown1968


You seem to read and hang on our every word, so eventually,you'll learn something.


Glad to have you aboard!

straker
straker

Lee-Cpa


It is true that genetics plays a part in academic performance.


Its also true that this fact will never be mentioned in most current college Sociology books.


The idea seems to be that, if you ignore it, it will just go away.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@straker


There are different kinds of intelligence; moreover, as Jerry Eads correctly writes, below, ". . .intelligence is not immutable."

HollyJones
HollyJones

"Before anyone counters that poverty did not hold back kids a generation ago, it did. It went unnoticed  because many poor kids, especially in Georgia, disappeared early from school radar, dropping out after eighth grade."  Or, there were blue collar jobs waiting for them that didn't require much beyond an 8th grade education. There was a path to the middle class without advanced education.   My paternal grandfather, (whose parents were sharecroppers in south GA and later north FL),  left school in the 6th grade ( I think, maybe 8th), somehow became an acetylene torch operator at the Jacksonville shipyards, fought in WW II, came home and was fairly successful in the lumber business. That formula doesn't work anymore, or not on as large a scale as it used to. Even my dad, who earned an Associate's degree on the GI Bill, was able to move up as far as he chose on the corporate ladder, I don't think that would happen today.    While I do not believe that everyone needs to go to college, I do believe that  something beyond a HS diploma is required to achieve anything even close to a decent living anymore.  




Mandingo
Mandingo

Give everyone who "participates" in public school an A and a diploma. Let the Colleges, Universities and employers administer basic skills /advanced  skills tests to weed them out of contention before admitting or hiring someone else that received a good education from a private school. The public school graduates  can attend for profit Colleges and Universities and once again receive a diploma for "participation". You know, kind of run it  like a free food-stamp program.

Starik
Starik

@Mandingo Don't we do that already? My only quarrel with you is that public schools can be really good and private schools can be really bad.

Starik
Starik

We managed to go to the moon almost 50 years ago.  We should be able to completely rethink our educational system.  Do we need 12 years of high school?  Not for everybody. Kids should be able to go to school in accordance with their interests and abilities. We need to deal with the racial implications dispassionately, like adults.  If we have disproportionate numbers of Asians and Jews at the highest educational level it may very well be nature, not discrimination.

Astropig
Astropig

@Starik


We could never launch a program like the moon shot today. Public borrowing and a crushing debt is crowding out the investment in such things so that an increasingly entitled public can get it's "wrap around services". In fact, this nation has no space program to speak of now,but more people are on food stamps and public assistance than ever.We have papered over (quite literally,I'm afraid) our failure to build a strong industrial/technology economy so that we can transfer money to people that demand it as entitlements.This article is just another daily dose of that.


And the real pain is closer than we think. Because we are borrowing to repay earlier borrowing,we're going to have to keep...borrowing.At some point,our creditors will realize that we have no intention of repaying and cut us off.Then MES, Jerry and all the other "something for nothing" folks will have to do some honest work. Can't come soon enough, I say.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Astropig @Starik 

You are correct that we couldn't launch a program to the moon today. "Crushing debt" is not the problem and never was.  The problem is that we don't have the manufacturing facilities because they are mostly overseas now.   Because big corporations wanted the tax breaks and got them, there was no incentive to pay quality wages for quality work.  Originally business had a choice 1) pay big taxes to the government or 2) give the money to the employees instead.  When the tax laws got changed so that profits could be kept rather than give them to either the government or employees, the businesses acted in their own self-interest. Notice the spreading gap from the "bosses" to the "worker bees?"  Debt had nothing to do with it in the past nor presently. Our workers beat every other nation in productivity with stagnant wages and still the corps go overseas for extremely cheap wages. If you had taken Econ courses past introductory micro and macro, you would know this. 

Astropig
Astropig

@OldPhysicsTeacher @Astropig @Starik


The fastest growing part of the federal budget is interest on the debt. You can hate corporations all you want, but they are simply acting like you would act if you were them. But you're not, so you want men with power to do what you can't (take money from companies).


That's reality.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Astropig @OldPhysicsTeacher @Starik 

I don't hate corporations.  They're not the problem.  They simply looked at the "rules" the legislature set up and acted in their own interest.  I don't see anything wrong with that.  That's capitalism.  The rules were changed from when we "went to the moon." During that era, most businesses were run as sole props and small business partnerships.  Then it cost big money to form a corporation.  Taxes were approximately 50% of the net profits.  It was a huge cost to form a corporation and few people wanted to go through the hassle just to avoid personal responsibility for their decisions.

Most any expense could be deducted: the two martini lunch, pensions, bonus FOR ALL EMPLOYEES - based as a percent of their salaries, company cars, etc, etc, etc.  The Board of Directors believed that they either had to pay the government or give the money to the employees.  Then the tax laws were re-written.  What you see today is the end result.  If the tax structure would be changed back to what was in effect during the Viet Nam era, there'd be plenty of money (and every CEO, Board of Directors, Executive VP, et al would be screaming at the bought and paid for DemoRepublican Parties to change it back.  THEY WANT THEIR MONEY!!!)  That's why I say the debt is irrelevant.  The money is there; it's just been moved around.  

By the way, I lived through that era.  Don't go showing me publications by pundits that never knew anything about the 50-70's claiming it was different.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Astropig @Starik Nice talking to you guys, but Elementary is getting ready to come on and I'm going to watch it live... plus commercials :-(.  good night all!


cmcwilli
cmcwilli

@Astropig     If  'wrap-around services' are such a drag on a nation's wealth and success, why are so many other nations who provide those services wealthier, healthier and happier than the US? Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Australia etc? Even Costa Rica, considered to be a third-world nation, can afford to provide quality education and universal healthcare. These things are not seen as redistribution of wealth or a right, but a duty that must be performed to ensure the health of the nation.


One thing these countries have in common is that they spend far less of their wealth on the military. The amount we spend supporting our own citizens pales in comparison to what we spend  on defense - particularly the totally unnecessary Iraq War. Guns vs. butter.

jerryeads
jerryeads

Sure would be nice if the detractors actually read before sniping. But that's normal I guess. Bryan didn't at all say that the schools would be just fine if we fixed everything else. What he says is that we love to make war on the kids, teachers and schools as a way to avoid the rest of the issues that must be addressed as well.

Bryan took aim not only at the government's willingness to maim and murder kids by refusing health care but at schools and teacher prep colleges. Our "leaders" come up short, even our rich schools come up short, and our colleges come up short. If we want a future that doesn't look like Beyond Thunderdome, many pieces must come into place.

I had the honor to work with Bryan a bit before I came to teacher prep land. It was great fun to work with his epidemiological training, so different from (and far beyond) the level of research training I see in many social scientists. Certainly beyond mine. I'm ecstatic he's provided food for thought for this forum.

Lee, you have a point that I would agree is too often ignored. What we know now, though, is that intelligence is not immutable. While we have to address health care to (for example) reduce premature births, there are school things that can be done to reduce the chances that a disadvantaged kid will be a contributor rather than a cost to society. Likewise, an elementary teacher can become a lot better at understanding and teaching mathematics (i.e., become smarter) with a change in effort to understand math. By the way, elementary teacher-to-be students in Georgia public colleges now take a total of five math courses during their four years, three of them (geometry, algebra and probability) as juniors. Whether that will produce K-12 students better at math is a topic for research, but I hope so.

Astropig
Astropig

@jerryeads


"the government's willingness to maim and murder kids by refusing health care ..."


Maim and murder? You sound like a Tea Party chapter president. Or Alex Jones.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@jerryeads


"What we know now, though, is that intelligence is not immutable. While we have to address health care to (for example) reduce premature births, there are school things that can be done to reduce the chances that a disadvantaged kid will be a contributor rather than a cost to society."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


These sentences are absolutely true, based on my 35 years of teaching experiences, 25 years of which were in instructional leadership and SST (Student Support Team) Chair for two schools, 1 - 12 grade levels. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Wascatlady 


You are correct on that.  He should have used the word "enhance" rather than the word "reduce."  I read it with the word "enhance" in mind, not "reduce."  I believe he was thinking with "enhance" in mind, also.  Human error.  We all make them.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Any discussion of academic achievement that does not include a discussion of IQ is flawed. Bottom line, a student with an IQ of 85 is not going to be able to learn in the same manner or pace as the student with an IQ of 120. But there they are, sitting in the same classroom for the first eight years or so of their public school education.

I also hold a strong belief that low IQ is a root cause of poverty. A low IQ person does not have the same economic opportunities as a higher IQ person. A low IQ person is not going to go to college. They are not going to become engineers, accountants, doctors or other high paying professions. A low IQ person frequently makes poor financial decisions as they do not comprehend certain concepts such as compound interest.

The politically correct, equal outcomes pathos wants to focus on poverty because in their tax the rich and give to the poor mentality, these little street urchins are Mensa material, just waiting on Mr Moneybags to hand over a few more billion.  LBJ's Great Society sucked $15 TRILLION out of the pockets of the productive class and squandered on one failed program after another - and had the opposite effect of INCREASING the numbers of poverty.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Lee_CPA2 

As a liburl totally opposed to what the Republican Party stands for, I've been opposed to your "solutions" from day one...... On the other hand, if true, this would explain a lot of the problems. I have to admit it makes a LOT of sense. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/new-brain-science-shows-poor-kids-have-smaller-brains-than-affluent-kids/2015/04/15/3b679858-e2bc-11e4-b510-962fcfabc310_story.html

Notice, it does not speak to honesty, work ethics, or any form of sense of morals, AND they are the first, and sometimes only crooks caught.  A Federal Agent friend used to say, "We only catch the dumb criminals."  The smart ones get away with it. (Wall Street, anyone?) 

bu2
bu2

@OldPhysicsTeacher @Lee_CPA2 

"Noble and Sowell have two theories about why poor children have smaller brains. One is that poor families lack access to material goods that aid healthy development, such as good nutrition and higher-quality health care. The other is that poor families tend to live more chaotic lives, and that stress could inhibit healthy brain development."


They overlook the obvious.  On average it seems quite logical that poor people would be less intelligent than well off people.  Therefore, their children, on average, will be less intelligent.


There are a number of studies on the impact of early childhood nutrition (that's why there are programs for that) on brain development.  There are studies on the impact of the stress of poverty and violence on brain development.  But overlooking genetics says you have to question anything that comes from these particular scientists.

bu2
bu2

@OldPhysicsTeacher @Lee_CPA2 

It would also stand to reason that those in poverty, on average, tend to have less of habits that lead to success and more of habits that lead to failure.  So things like work ethic and addictive behaviors (other than work-aholics), would be different on average.


None of this excuses the attitude by some teachers (including those in this trial) that ALL poor children can't learn.  ALL children can learn.  Just not all the at the same rate and level of complexity.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Lee_CPA2 I don't have a clue.  It's far outside my skill set.  I only know what we've done to go from welfare to workfare did a lot better, but we still must do more.  The range of pay needs to be addressed.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@bu2 @OldPhysicsTeacher @Lee_CPA2 

I understand, BUT (and I know I'm stretching) when you hold teachers accountable for things outside their control, good teachers will, like good coaches, MOVE to where the talent is.  That leaves behind only the teachers that are single, young, idealistic, and... the lower ability teachers, or the older teachers unwilling to make a "move."  When incompetent administrators (sorry for cursing) then demand they make stones fly, they'll do whatever it takes to make those stones fly -  cheat, steal, whatever, because they're too young and inexperienced and don't know better or so beat down they'll do what they're told even though they know it's wrong.  I'M NOT EXCUSING THEM.  I was placed in that type of position in my 2, 3, or 4th year.  I just didn't follow instructions, told the school of education what was going on (Principals and superintendents were told to do this, as it was valid, in a state-wide meeting).  They looked aghast.... and nothing was done.  Fortunately I was known in my county and the principal wasn't so nothing was done to me.

Starik
Starik

@OldPhysicsTeacher @Lee_CPA2 OK, let's assume, hypothetically, that the IQ bell curve is different for different "races."  Every race has a 50% rate of above average people within the racial group - and Asians and Jews have the most favorable bell curves. For years we segregated blacks and suppressed them based on color, not ability. We need a color blind meritocracy.

Dismuke
Dismuke

@Lee_CPA2 First off, if Lee the accountant had spent time reading the blog post, it might dawn on him that dealing with prenatal health issues and addressing the premature birth rate could help immensely with prevention of learning disabilities--both the serious kind and the less severe nonetheless problematic kind.  You could potentially push kids up a standard deviation or 2 on the Stanford Binet by addressing these issues.

It's also worth noting that IQ is not static--it can go up or down based on education and other factors.  And it's worth noting that in the first 3 or 4 years of schooling, kids are developmentally all over the map.  The kindergarten whiz kid may end up an average 4th grader--or vice versa.  So there is in fact a rationale for not tracking in the early years.  

There's a whole lot that can change the educational outcomes of the "IQ 85" crowd you are so dismissive of.  The author of this post had some good stuff to say, and something as simple as convincing parents to read to their children can make a big difference.  And without doubt, there are things that could be done differently/better in the classroom as well.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Starik @OldPhysicsTeacher @Lee_CPA2 

Let's NOT assume the IQ Normal Distribution Curve is different for different races and go from there. I have seen NO evidence for that.  Have you?  Citation please... and no citations from educational journals are valid.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Dismuke @Lee_CPA2 

"...there are things that could be done differently/better in the classroom as well...." Actually, no, you can't.  Not in today's society.  Remember, you put your money where it will do the most IMMEDIATE good.  I remember my first year teaching after coming from the business community.  I went to the NSTA in Atlanta to see what "the best science teachers in Georgia" could do to show me how to improve my teaching.  What I found out was the private schools had a low student/teacher ratio, and mostly total autonomy in their classroom.  One guy taught density by having his 10 students change into swimming gear in the rest rooms and climb into a barrel full of water and have the class calculate the water displaced from the barrel.  I'd like to see that done at an urban school </snark>

Public schools are doing everything they can with the money being given us.  Most of our "additional money (what a joke)" goes into administrative costs associated with "government funding and testing."  And asking this Red State to just give us the money and we'll use it properly, is asking too much.  We did that in the 70-80's and botched it something awful.  I wouldn't trust us either.  


Oh, and I asked the public school teachers (at the NSTA) what to do with the ones failing in my school.  Their comments were, "beats me too.  What's your ideas?"

booful98
booful98

@OldPhysicsTeacher And it didn't occur to you to do the same experiment on a smaller scale? I dunno..maybe with a bucket of water and piece of metal?

Starik
Starik

@OldPhysicsTeacher @Starik @Lee_CPA2 Show me a study that does not reflect IQ differences by groups of people.  I've seen an article asserting that IQ testing for the WW1 draft showed higher scores for northern blacks than southern whites, for example.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Wascatlady @Starik @OldPhysicsTeacher @Lee_CPA2 

I have seen NO valid study on IQ vs race.  I have seen a ton of studies on ability/learning vs race.  That has more to do with parenting than IQ.  Check the story of Ben Carson as a school kid.  If the kids respect the parents, and the parents are involved in the kid's life, AND the parents push their child to succeed, they generally succeed.  I can't remember the study... old age or brain freeze is acting up.


OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@booful98 @OldPhysicsTeacher 

Yes.... I did, but that wasn't the point.  The point was that private schools with low student/teacher ratios, well funded, with attentive children that valued education, with attentive parents, generally succeeded (and lot poorer paid [and quality] teachers - in general).  Until I taught only upper level high school students did my tactics work.  It wasn't about me; it was about them. Public schools do not have the funds to do these special activities.  It takes a special kind of teacher to think up demonstrations that are interesting and teach kids information they're not that interested in.  I'm not whining.  It just a fact..
 

As I've said about football, the coaches get far more credit (and blame!) than they deserve.  It was not hard for Vince Dooley to call Hershel over to the side and say, "take the ball from Buck; run to the sideline, and turn up-field and score."  Hershel did.  That made Vince Dooley a national champion.  If you go back over the films (I have), you'll see in many cases Vince had NO IDEA what was going on, on the field.  Test scores do not, nor will they ever, tell you about the teacher.  They tell you about the ability of the students.  To paraphrase Jim Bouton in his book on managing a baseball team, "I taught well, but they learned badly" :-)

bu2
bu2

@OldPhysicsTeacher @bu2 @Lee_CPA2 


They need to do what they can to make the schools in poorer neighborhoods better environments.  Most of the "inequality" talk is absolute nonsense.  But I do think you are right about the best teachers tending to move to the better schools.  That's one area where I believe there is inequality.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@Starik @OldPhysicsTeacher @Wascatlady @Lee_CPA2 

I was talking about the ability of the US soldier (especially today) to "step up" when his superior was put out of action and take over the next step leadership position.  The rest of the allies did not do as well, and the Axis did even worse.  That speaks more to a person's intelligence than a paper and pencil test.  

And if you think a low IQ is useful in combat, I have a few friends that are bronze and silver star winners who will dissuade you of that belief. That went out with the invention of the machine gun.  We no longer need (if WE ever did) "cannon fodder."

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@bu2 @OldPhysicsTeacher @Lee_CPA2 

And I can assure you it ain't changing!  You can give me all the money in the world, all the technology in the world, and football players that are small, slow, and dumb, and I ain't gonna win any games.  That's also true with students.

Rarely does the best football coach win... now he can make the score close with a lot of very hard work; heck, he might even lead into the 4th quarter; HOWEVER, he's going to lose in the end.  It takes hosses to win.  That's true of schooling too.  And your best coaches are going to go where they can win.  Teachers will too... if you make the job a "hired gun" job with "performance bonuses"  --- that have nothing to do with his/her performance.