Sunday, February 24, 2013

Black Males Not Applying to Med School

Medical schools risk litigation from ill-treated patients if they hand out degrees to incompetent students so most are reluctant to do that.  So it seems that it has become known among blacks that they will most likely not get "affirmative action" degrees from Med schools.  So they don't go there.

More interesting is why whites are applying less.  Perhaps it is a reluctance to compete with smart Asians

Fewer black men are applying to, accepted to, and attending U.S. medical schools despite an increase in the number of overall applicants and uptick in matriculation among other minorities, a report found.

Black applicants were the second most populous demographic behind whites in the late 1970s. There were more black applicants than Asians and Hispanics combined.

But in 2011, first-time African-American applicants were surpassed by Asians and Hispanics, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) said. Compared with 1977, the number of Hispanic applicants more than tripled in 2011 (3,459 versus 955) while first-time Asian applicants went from 966 to 8,941 when comparing 1977 to 2011.

The number of first-time applications from blacks grew a mere 36% (2,361 in 1977 to 3,215 in 2011).

In fact, black women outnumbered black men applicants in 2011 nearly two to one, the AAMC said.

"Black or African-American males are applying to, being accepted to, and matriculating into medical school in diminishing numbers, which speaks to the increasing need for medical schools to institute plans and initiatives aimed at strengthening the pipeline," stated the report, called "Diversity in Medical Education."

"In response, initiatives have been launched throughout the country in hopes of reversing this trend and producing more graduates. Medical schools are already investing in pipeline programs, but it is clear that additional targeted efforts are necessary," according to the report.

While first-year enrollment was up 18.4% overall from 2002 to 2012 as the AAMC said last fall, that hasn't translated into a great number of more black men.

Non-whites accounted for nearly half of U.S. medical school applications in 2011, the AAMC said. The number of applications from whites has dropped roughly 26% since the late 1970s.

The negative trend for black men could make it harder to meet the growing demand of the primary care physician shortage.

"Black or African-American and Asian matriculants, in particular, have expressed an even greater interest than other racial and ethnic subgroups in general internal medicine," the AAMC report said.

However, all races and ethnicities -- including whites -- show a greater willingness to enter family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics since 2005, the AAMC said.

The AAMC also noted in its diversity report that there's a need to attract a more racially diverse medical school faculty.

More than 60% of medical school faculty are white. Hispanics make up 4% and blacks 2.9%, the AAMC found.

"Notably, this underrepresentation becomes starker among high-ranking faculty," the report stated. "Therefore, these data not only demonstrate the continued need to attract more diverse faculty candidates to the field of academic medicine, but also the need to create more inclusive environments in which diverse faculty thrive and ascend the ranks of academia."


Can We Be REALLY Hard-Headed About Preschool?

Can we be really hard-headed and confront the question: what if there is nothing the government can do for low-income children to improve their educational performance?

Grover Whitehurst, now a scholar at the Brookings Institution, has spent much of his career developing learning programs for young children.  He recently wrote two very good essays asking if we could be “hard headed” about Head Start and Universal Pre-K by admitting that the data shows that such programs have no lasting effect on the low-income children who participate in them.

But let’s take it a step further.  Can we be really hard-headed and confront the question: what if there is nothing the government can do for low-income children to improve their educational performance?  That’s a question that needs asking because, first, Whitehurst doesn’t want to ask it:

"I hope you will agree that we must do something.  A program that is supposed to prepare the neediest children in the nation for school and fails to do so is a program that needs fixing."

Second, the reason to ask it is that low-income children may not be getting the one thing that has been shown to have lasting educational benefits:  parents reading to their toddlers.  A lot of evidence shows that parents endow their children with a lot of advantages in school if they read to them whey they are 3- and 4-years old.  As one summary of the research states:

"When parents hold positive attitudes towards reading, they are more likely to create opportunities for their children that promote positive attitudes towards literacy and they can help children develop solid language and literacy skills. When parents share books with children, they also can promote children’s understanding of the world, their social skills and their ability to learning coping strategies. When this message is supported by child health professionals during well child care and parents are given the tool, in this case a book, to be successful, the impact can be even greater. This effect may be more important among high risk children in low income families, who have parents with little education, belong to a minority group and do not speak English since they are less likely to be exposed to frequent and interactive shared reading."

The problem is that many low-income parents don’t regularly read to their toddlers.  A study in Child Development found that only about half of low-income mothers were reading regularly to their children.

In short, the practices that endow children with lasting educational benefits begin at home.  Low-income families are less likely to engage in those practices.  And the research on Head Start shows that there is not much these programs can do to overcome what isn’t present in the home.

So, to reiterate, what if there is nothing the government can do for low-income children to improve their educational performance?  It’s understandable why Whitehurst doesn’t want to raise this question —- many, many people don’t.  Clearly, it isn’t fair that upper- and middle-class children get the benefit of a parent reading to them when they are young, and so many low-income children do not.  We all want to cling to the belief that there is something that can done for those children who did not receive the necessary development at home.  Sadly, it’s a belief that isn’t supported by the evidence.  And if we persist in it with programs like Head Start, then we are spending resources in a way that will do little good.

If we are really going to be hard headed about early childhood education, we need to ask if there is any government program that can compensate for parents that fail to read to their young children and face the implications if the answer is “no.”


Top British universities lowering admission bar for state school pupils, according to researchers

State school pupils are winning places at the country’s elite universities with lower A-level grades than their privately educated counterparts, say researchers.  They are more likely to be admitted to Russell Group universities with B or C grades than pupils from independent schools.

And those admitted from the state sector are around 20 per cent less likely to have A* or A grades.

The findings are likely to reignite the debate over the ‘social engineering’ of university places.

Some private schools are already threatening to boycott universities that are shown to discriminate against their pupils.

An analysis of A-level grades held by students entering Russell Group universities shows that those from state schools have significantly weaker grades on average. Fifty-two per cent of the qualifications held by independent school pupils entering 19 of the group’s 24 universities in 2010-11 were either A* or A at A-level.

This fell to 42 per cent among state entrants, according to data compiled by the student information website

The grades B and C made up 24.3 per cent of the marks received by state entrants compared with only 18.2 per cent among independent school students.

The gap in achievement was most marked in the highly selective universities.

But it was still apparent at the five Russell Group members that are least popular with private pupils: Cardiff, Sheffield, Liverpool, Glasgow and Queen’s University Belfast.

The research comes as universities face increasing pressure to admit more schools from disadvantaged areas and low performing state schools. Professor Les Ebdon, director of the Office for Fair Access, has called for universities to set ‘stretching’ targets for recruiting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This is in return for the right to charge up to £9,000 a year tuition fees. He has previously backed the use of differential offers for students from struggling state comprehensives, allowing them to win places with lower grade A-levels than those from high-flying schools.

While OFFA does not set universities official targets for state entrants, it does challenge them to do more to promote applications from poor students. And guidance on its website says that institutions can mark out poor pupils with potential to succeed by admitting them with lower grades.

Anna Vignoles, professor of education at Cambridge University, told the Times Higher Education magazine that this pressure might explain why state pupils have been admitted with lower grades.

‘Universities are very alive to these targets, contrary to what is often reported,’ she said.

‘When universities have good quality state school students, albeit with slightly lower grades, you can see there is a willingness to get them in.’

Chris Ramsey, of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents top independent schools, said it was ‘unjustifiable’ to ask for higher grades as a ‘blanket policy’.

He said: ‘There may always be reasons for an individual student to be given a lower – or higher – offer than that advertised publicly, but a policy which treated students as simply members of a group would be entirely wrong and should be stopped.’


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