During the 2011 administration of the Georgia High School End of Course Test for Mathematics I examination, more than half, 54 percent, of the nearly 52,000 black students who took the exam, failed. The failure rate got worse when considering Mathematics II which is the integrated mathematics course that covers statistics, algebra and geometry. Of the approximately 44,000 black students who took that exam, nearly 60 percent failed.Of 52,000 black students in the state of Georgia 28,080 failed Mathematics I. Of the 44,000 black students in the state of Georgia, 26,400 failed Mathematics II. For a people who appears to have coined the phrase "Droppin' science", this is not good at all. Just to make sure we all understand just how bad this is, consider the following chart from the article:
71 percent of the 2,500 black students in APS who took the Mathematics II exam in 2011, failed and only 1 percent, 25 students, passed with distinction (Pass Plus). By contrast, only 21 percent of white students failed with 79 percent passing and 23 percent of those passing with distinction. In Fulton County, where 62 percent of black students failed the Mathematics II exam, 90 percent of the white students passed, 32 percent with distinction. The failure rates and achievement gaps throughout most of the school districts in the metro-Atlanta area are astonishing.Astonishing is right. But the following statement fails to adequately understand the problem:
The consequence of this reality is that black students are excluded from much of the STEM conversation and are nearly entirely excluded from the higher level STEM education discourse.Black students are not "excluded". Excluded implies that some outside force is preventing black students from passing these tests. No, the black students have absented themselves from "much of the STEM conversation". Because black students are not doing the work required. Full stop. Full. Stop. In recent postings on education (just in time for the start of school), I pointed to research that shows that:
About the age when a child’s voice stops cracking, education itself has a relatively mild effect on academic success. IQ, good parenting, and personal motivation are by far the most important factors.So applying this to the report we have to ask the question. What is the cause of the abysmal failure rates from the black students? Well it's not Jim Crow. It's not Republicans. It's not the KKK either. Why? Because none of these things determine whether you can add, subtract, multiply and divide. The IQ argument has been dismissed by scholars. It's the easiest explanation. If negroes are simply not constituted to grasp algebra and trigonometry then there's no point even being upset when the vast majority of them fail to do so. The exceptions are, well, exceptional. But we've rejected that as the argument so that leaves two other options: Good parenting Personal motivation. Let me propose that these two items are the cause of this catastrophic failure. Exhibit A: If "back to school" for your kid is about clothes, rapping and dancing. They are not going to pass the maths exams. Sorry. For all I know this group of kids are rocket scientists. Fact is though most likely most of them are not. Not even close. Exhibit B: Oh what's that you say? There are commercials with other kids of other races that do fashion? I see, And their fail rate is what exactly? When most of a community's children cannot pass basic mathematics, the above commercial ought not be made or presented. Either we're serious about this education thing or we're not. We're either preparing our children to do big things or we're preparing them for failure. Writing in MommyNoire we find:
Kids from both groups are part of Beats and Rhymes Program, a YMCA after school program in Minneapolis. In order to participate in studio time and video shoots, the kids, middle school students, must finish an hour of homework each day they come to the program. The kids told a local CBS station they love the program and know it keeps them out of trouble. Said one ninth grader, “There’s a lot of bad things out here that I could easily adapt to, so, Beats and Rhymes really kept me out of there, so [without it] I would probably be nowhere.” The programs organizers want the kids to understand the importance of school, even writing it into lyrics. One little lyricist says in “Khaki Pants”, “You better stay on your Ps and Qs, ’cause in school I stay on mine.”Let me remind you: 71% failed basic math. Clearly a whole lot of somebody's are not on their P's and Q's. But the video is cute and adorable. 70% failure rate is not "cute". Nor is it "adorable". Let me make a wild guess and suppose that these same 70% who do not know basic maths do know the latest dance moves and the latest hip hop tracks and artists. And lest we think this kind of failure rate is limited to Georgia or Atlanta, look at the Common Core test results from NY:
Chrystina Russell, principal of Global Technology Preparatory in East Harlem, said she did not know what she would tell parents, who will receive scores for their children in late August. At her middle school, which serves a large population of students from poor families, 7 percent of students were rated proficient in English, and 10 percent in math. Last year, those numbers were 33 percent and 46 percent, respectively.Do I need to discuss the demographics of Harlem public schools? Thought not. How are only 7% of students in middle school simply "proficient"? How are 93% (see, easy math) of the students NOT simply "proficient" in English? Don't blame the schools. Don't blame the teachers. Don't blame the teachers union. Why are 90% of the children not even "proficient" in math. Basic math? And let's examine the results from last year. 67% were NOT proficient in English? Thats' a majority fail rate. 54% were not proficient in math? That's a majority fail rate. So the results in the previous year, before the changes were abysmal:
But striking gaps in achievement between black and Hispanic students and their counterparts persisted. In math, 15 percent of black students and 19 percent of Hispanic students passed the exam, compared with 50 percent of white students and 61 percent of Asian students.85% of black students failed? 85%? Mayor Bloomberg, thinking that we are complete idiots says:
black and Hispanic students, who make up two-thirds of the student population, had made progress that was not reflected in the scores.85% failure in math is progress? I wonder what egress looks like. I'm sure a bunch of folks reading this are not happy. Don't care. 71% failure rate of basic maths. The videos of black students singing, dancing and rapping are not cute because that's the only thing that the vast majority of our students are doing and failing in the stuff that matters. Either black folks are inherently stupid or parents (and the community at large) are messing up badly. If we reject one, then other must be the case.