Thursday, April 30, 2009

Excuses, Excuses

Persistent Racial Gap Seen in Students’ Test Scores but nothing will convince the Left-led politicians and bureaucrats that it is genetics that they are fighting

The achievement gap between white and minority students has not narrowed in recent years, despite the focus of the No Child Left Behind law on improving the scores of blacks and Hispanics, according to results of a federal test considered to be the nation’s best measure of long-term trends in math and reading proficiency.

Between 2004 and last year, scores for young minority students increased, but so did those of white students, leaving the achievement gap stubbornly wide, despite President Bush’s frequent assertions that the No Child law was having a dramatic effect.

Although Black and Hispanic elementary, middle and high school students all scored much higher on the federal test than they did three decades ago, most of those gains were not made in recent years, but during the desegregation efforts of the 1970s and 1980s. That was well before the 2001 passage of the No Child law, the official description of which is “An Act to Close the Achievement Gap.”

“There’s not much indication that N.C.L.B. is causing the kind of change we were all hoping for,” said G. Gage Kingsbury, a testing expert who is a director at the Northwest Evaluation Association in Portland. “Trends after the law took effect mimic trends we were seeing before. But in terms of watershed change, that doesn’t seem to be happening.”

The results no doubt will stoke debate about how to rewrite the No Child law when the Obama administration brings it up for reauthorization later this year. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said he would like to strengthen national academic standards, tighten requirements that high-quality teachers be distributed equally across schools in affluent and poor neighborhoods, and make other adjustments. “We still have a lot more work to do,” Mr. Duncan said of the latest scores. But the long-term assessment results could invigorate those who challenge the law’s accountability model itself.

Despite gains that both whites and minorities did make, the overall scores of America’s 17-year-old students, averaged across all groups, were the same as those of teenagers who took the test in the early 1970’s. This was due largely to a shift in demographics; there are now far more lower scoring minorities in relation to whites. In 1971, the proportion of white 17-year-olds who took the reading test was 87 percent, while minorities were 12 percent. Last year, whites had declined to 59 percent while minorities had increased to 40 percent.

The scores of 9- and 13-year-old students, however, were up modestly in reading, and were considerably higher in math, since 2004, the last time the test was administered. And they were quite a bit higher than those of students of the same age a generation back. Still, the progress of younger students tapered off as they got older.

Some experts said the results proved that the No Child law had failed to make serious headway in lifting academic achievement. “ We’re lifting the basic skills of young kids,” said Bruce Fuller, an education professor at Berkeley, “but this policy is not lifting 21st-century skills for the new economy.”

But Margaret Spellings, Mr. Duncan’s predecessor under President Bush, called the results a vindication of the No Child law. “It’s not an accident that we’re seeing the most improvement where N.C.L.B. has focused most vigorously,” Ms. Spellings said. “The law focuses on math and reading in grades three through eight — it’s not about high schools. So these results are affirming of our accountability type approach.” Whether anyone knows how to extend the results achieved with younger students through the turbulent high school years remains an open question.

The math and reading test, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Long-Term Trends, was given to a nationally representative sample of 26,000 students last year. It was the 12th time since 1971 that the Department of Education administered a comparable test to students ages 9, 13 and 17. The scores, released on Tuesday in Washington, allow for comparisons of student achievement every few years back to the Vietnam and Watergate years.

The results point to the long-term crisis in many of the nation’s high schools, and could lead to proposals for more federal attention to them in the rewrite of the No Child law, which requires states to administer annual tests in grades three to eight, but only once in high school.

The 2008 score gap between black and white 17-year-olds, 29 points in reading and 26 points in math, could be envisioned as the rough equivalent of between two and three school years’ worth of learning, said Peggy Carr, an associate commissioner for assessment at the Department of Education.

Freeman Hrabowski, the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who has written about raising successful African-American children, said the persistence of the achievement gap should lead policymakers to seek new ways to increase low-performing students’ learning time.

“Where we see the gap narrowing, that’s because there’s been an emphasis on supplemental education, on after-school programs that encourage students to read more and do more math problems,” Dr. Hrabowski said. “Where there are programs that encourage that additional work, students of color do the work and their performance improves and the gap narrows.”

But he said that educators and parents pushing children to higher achievement often find themselves swimming against a tide of popular culture.

“Even middle-class students are unfortunately influenced by the culture that says it’s simply not cool for students to be smart,” he said. “And that is a factor here in these math and reading scores.”

Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents more than 60 metropolitan school systems, said that much of the progress among the nation’s minority students has been the result of hard work by urban educators, not only since the No Child law took effect but for decades before.

“N.C.L.B. did not invent the concept of the achievement gap —much of the desegregation work in the 70’s and 80’s was in fact about giving poor, Hispanic and African-American kids access to better resources and curriculum,” Mr. Casserly said. “You do see from these results that in that period, the gains were steeper. It wasn’t being called an achievement gap, but that was what that was about.”


Liberal Student Infiltrates Liberty University to Write Exposé and Discovers Intolerance...From the Left

This is just too funny! A liberal Ivy League student decides to enroll at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Virgina and write a book exposé (The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University) supposedly showing the intolerance that must be there, or so he thought. The liberal student, however, was surprised to find little of the expected intolerance but is now finding plenty of it from the left because his book was not an outright condemnation of Liberty University nor of Jerry Falwell whom he met during his semester there. An AP story by Eric Tucker sets the scene:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Kevin Roose managed to blend in during his single semester at Liberty University, attending lectures on the myth of evolution and the sin of homosexuality, and joining fellow students on a mission trip to evangelize partyers on spring break.

Roose had transferred to the Virginia campus from Brown University in Providence, a famously liberal member of the Ivy League. His Liberty classmates knew about the switch, but he kept something more important hidden: He planned to write a book about his experience at the school founded by fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell.

Roose explains the reason for his infiltration:
"As a responsible American citizen, I couldn't just ignore the fact that there are a lot of Christian college students out there," said Roose, 21, now a Brown senior. "If I wanted my education to be well-rounded, I had to branch out and include these people that I just really had no exposure to."
We have to give Roose credit here. Unlike most liberals, he actually opened himself up to contrary ideas. Something his parents found hard to understand:
Roose's parents, liberal Quakers who once worked for Ralph Nader, were nervous about their son being exposed to Falwell's views. Still, Roose transferred to Liberty for the spring 2007 semester.
He was determined to not mock the school, thinking it would be too easy _ and unfair. He aimed to immerse himself in the culture, examine what conservative Christians believe and see if he could find some common ground. He had less weighty questions too: How did they spend Friday nights? Did they use Facebook? Did they go on dates? Did they watch "Gossip Girl?"
Did they Twitter? Did they use electricity? Did they eat with utensils?
He lined up a publisher _ Grand Central Publishing _ and arrived at the Lynchburg campus prepared for "hostile ideologues who spent all their time plotting abortion clinic protests and sewing Hillary Clinton voodoo dolls." Instead, he found that "not only are they not that, but they're rigorously normal."
GASP! But how can that be? Haven't all good liberals been taught that Liberty University students are a bunch of ignorant hateful yahoos foaming at the mouth? Kevin Roose appeared to have strayed dangerously from the Party Line.
He met students who use Bible class to score dates, apply to top law schools and fret about their futures, and who enjoy gossip, hip-hop and R-rated movies _ albeit in a locked dorm room.
Stop! You're making the LU students sound too normal!
A roommate he depicts as aggressively anti-gay _ all names are changed in the book _ is an outcast on the hall, not a role model.
But...but where's all the hate?
Roose researched the school by joining as many activites as possible. He accompanied classmates on a spring break missionary trip to Daytona Beach. He visited a campus support group for chronic masturbators, where students were taught to curb impure thoughts. And he joined the choir at Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church. Roose scored an interview with the preacher for the school newspaper, right before Falwell died in May of that year. Roose decided against confronting him over his views on liberals, gays and other hot-button topics, and instead learned about the man himself, discovering among other things that the pastor loved diet peach Snapple and the TV show "24."
You mean Falwell wasn't consumed with hate 24/7 as all good liberals "know" as absolute fact?And now something that will really disturb the "tolerant" liberals:
Once ambivalent about faith, Roose now prays to God regularly _ for his own well-being and on behalf of others. He said he owns several translations of the Bible and has recently been rereading meditations from the letters of John on using love and compassion to solve cultural conflicts. He's even considering joining a church.
This latter must be very upsetting to liberals including his own parents. Sonny Boy! Where did we go wrong? To see just how upset the liberals are over this book, just read a few examples of intolerace in the Huffington Post comments section:
Wow, that must be a pretty good brainwashing program they've got there. That or this guy is weak sauce. You wouldn't catch me praying to some magic sky daddy if I spent a THOUSAND years at Liberty "University".

He should have gone to a deprogrammer to complete the experience.I wish he'd done an MRI before and after. It appears he's been brainwashed. Long periods of time with cults will do that.

I'm a little worried about Kevin's soul now that he's been programmed. He seems strong and intelligent though, so there's still hope for him. I'll be praying for his salvation from the radical right.

I hope he's been debriefed and re-socialized into the real world. Never visit the darkside.
So it turns out that Kevin Roose did discover intolerance due to spending a semester at Liberty University and, as we can see from these comments, it is now coming from the left.Welcome to the Brave New World of ironic reality, Kevin.


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