Monday, April 20, 2015

Teachers more likely to label black students as troublemakers, study finds

The report below is a summary of research by two minority  psychologists, Eberhardt and Okonofua.  In the study, "Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students",  the authors tried to pin more frequent punishment of black students on inaccurate "stereotypes" held by teachers.

It is not completely clear what view of stereotyping that the authors adopt.  To be a bit paradoxical about it, stereotyping is often stereotyped. By that I mean that the old 1930s view of stereotypes as fixed, rigid and impermeable to evidence seems still to be widely held, even among psychologists, who should by now know better.  There is a massive body of research findings (a summary from some time ago here) to show that, among most people, stereotypes are the exact opposite of that -- i.e. they are highly and rapidly responsive to evidence and change readily as new evidence becomes available.  They tend to be valuable generalizations

There are of course some extremists who hold to their beliefs so rigidly that no evidence can dislodge the beliefs concerned.  A good example is the way committed Green/Leftists cling to their global warming beliefs, despite the only global temperature changes over the last 18 years being in hundredths of one degree Celsius -- change which is insignificant both statistically and in every other way.

At any event, the authors below were unable to exclude the very real possibility that blacks students simply behave more disruptively and are therefore seen accurately to be more likely to be a continuing problem.  Insofar as it is a stereotype, the stereotype could be an accurate one.

This is very naive research that proves nothing. The press release is here.  The journal article is: "Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students"

Teachers can judge the behaviour of black students more harshly than while pupils, new research has suggested.

A study by researchers at Stanford University examined the reaction of secondary and primary school teachers in the United States to student race.

They found that the teachers were more likely to view youngsters who they thought were black as troublemakers than those they thought were white.

The researchers say this may go someway towards explaining why black children are often disciplined more at schools compared to other pupils.

Professor Jennifer Eberhardt, a psychologist at Stanford University, said: 'The fact that black children are disproportionately disciplined in school is behind dispute.

'What is less clear is why. We see that stereotypes not only can be used to allow people to interpret a specific behavior in isolation, but also stereotypes can heighten our sensitivity to behavioral patterns across time.

In their study, which is published in the journal Psychological Science, Professor Eberhardt and her colleagues presented teachers with fictional school records.

These records described two instances of misbehaviour by a student. The teachers were asked about their perception of the severity, how irritated that misbehaviour would make them and how the student should be punished.

They were also asked whether they saw the student as a troublemaker and if they could imagine themselves suspending that pupil in the future.

The researchers randomly assigned names to the student records, in some cases suggesting the student was black with names like Deshawn or Darnell and in others suggesting they were white with names like Greg or Jake.

The researchers found that racial stereotypes had little impact on the teachers' views of the pupils after one infraction.

However, the second piece of misbehaviour was seen as 'more troubling' when committed by a black student rather than a white one.

The teachers also tended to want to discipline black students more harshly as they were more likely to see the misbehaviour as part of a pattern.

The researchers suggest that psychological interventions could be used to help change the stereotypes of black students influencing the way teachers treat pupils.


Top British school cleared of discriminating against poor and non-Catholic children when selecting pupils

A Roman Catholic school attended by Nick Clegg’s eldest son and two of Tony Blair’s has been cleared of discriminating against the poor.

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator criticised the Oratory School in London for engaging in ‘social selection’, saying it had broken the rules in 105 different ways.

The state-funded school in Fulham, West London, was ordered to revise its admissions policy last year after the watchdog decided it was biased against working-class and non-Catholic children.

The watchdog accused the school of cherry-picking privileged white children using its strict faith-based entry requirements.

But yesterday, this was overturned by a High Court judge who said this decision was ‘flawed’ and ‘unreasonable’.

Mr Justice Cobb said: ‘The adjudicator’s conclusion that the governing body of the school had operated an admissions system which was socially selective, discriminatory, and unfairly disadvantageous to children from less well-off families was flawed and was reached by a process which was procedurally unfair to the school.’

The school, founded in 1863, has prioritised pupils based on whether they sing in the choir, arrange flowers in church, serve at the altar or assist in pastoral work.

In its ruling, the watchdog said the school must not grant places ‘on the basis of any practical or financial support parents may give to the school’ - nor should children be favoured on the basis of their hobbies and activities.

It said the ratio of children receiving free school meals - used as an indicator of poverty - was only 6-7 per cent compared with the local average of 25.1 per cent.

Mr Clegg’s eldest son Antonio, 12, attends, while Mr Blair sent his two eldest sons, Nicky and Euan, to the school with daughter Kathryn believed to have joined in the sixth form.

The boys’ school, which admits girls to the sixth form, also counts deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman among its alumni.

It is one of the most popular in the country and is always oversubscribed.

In a reserved judgment after a hearing last month Mr Justice Cobb ordered the adjudicator to think again after remitting the case to be heard by a fresh adjudicator.

He said: ‘I am satisfied that the adjudicator reaches this conclusion by a mix of flawed reasoning and unfair process. In the circumstances I am satisfied that this finding must be quashed.’

He ordered the adjudicator to pay 80 per cent of the school’s £155,000 costs with £60,000 on account.

Ane Vernon, solicitor for the school, said: ‘The allegation that the school was socially selective and discriminating against less well-off families has been hurtful to staff, pupils and parents.

‘This damaging allegation has been found by the judge to be wrong and unfair, and the finding vindicates the robust approach the school has had to take against the Office of the Schools Adjudicator.’

Headmaster David McFadden added: ‘The judge’s decision supports us in continuing to preserve the school’s ethos and serving Catholic families throughout the whole of London.

‘It is profoundly regrettable that the school - and other schools - have to expend precious resources, year after year, in standing up to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator.

‘These are key resources that should go to our children’s education and their future, not overturning ultimately flawed and unmeritorious decisions. Schools within the state sector have serious questions to ask about the adjudication process.’

The judge said he feared his conclusions would not bring an end to investigations into the school which had been going on for ‘far too long.’

London Oratory was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and has some of the best results in the country.

Church groups have complained that a ‘secular agenda’ is increasingly being imposed on faith schools which aim to uphold their traditional beliefs.


Ohio Teachers Strongly Dislike Common Core Tests

Ohio Senate Education Committee Chair Peggy Lehner has been instrumental in keeping Common Core in Ohio despite several years of vigorous grassroots efforts to replace it with higher-quality academic standards. Recently, she commissioned a survey of teachers, principals, and superintendents to see what they think of the state’s new tests, which are the second half of the Common Core initiative (after benchmarks that forecast what the tests will contain). By a 100-to-1 ratio, teachers and superintendents “strongly disagree” the tests “went well,” compared to those who “strongly agree.”

Of the 6,657 teachers who responded, only 51 “strongly agreed” the tests went well, while 5,427 “strongly disagreed.” An even larger proportion of teachers “strongly disagreed” the students were given an appropriate amount of time to complete the tests.

These results are, quite simply, astounding. More than half the state’s superintendents responded, an astronomically high response rate for a voluntary online survey. The vast majority also said technological problems were a significant obstacle to completing the tests.

Also significantly, at the same time it had switched to new Common Core math and English tests, Ohio had switched to new social studies and science tests from a private vendor. Educators were far less dissatisfied with the non-Common Core tests than with the Common Core tests.

These survey results vindicate years of warnings from Common Core opponents that the tests will be a train wreck, both because they demand technology far beyond what most schools can support and because Common Core itself is nebulous and unlikely to produce clear test questions.

The results also require state policymakers to make a big decision. Will the facts on the ground change their evidence-free support for Common Core? In the private market, this would hardly be a question. Nobody buys anything that has an average rating of three or lower on’s five-star rating system. But because states essentially have a monopoly over K–12 education, lawmakers are often more likely to listen to special interests who give them political cover and campaign donations than the people who have to live with their policies.

What Ohio lawmakers do with these survey results will reveal their real masters. Based on their previous blind support for Common Core, the prospects aren’t good.


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