We know all the facts, but they’re easy to ignore.
I’m not surprised when I’m analyzing my student data and all of my black boys’ names are at the bottom, usually falling in the red or starting off the bell curve.
But I don’t think I’ll ever get used to all of the ordinary events that show how alive and well the achievement gap carries on in our communities.
For example, students had a choice of writing tasks after reading Island of the Blue Dolphins, and many chose a how-to guide. After I graded them, I sorted them in groups according to how well they’re meeting standards. Above, I chose two to compare. (I did not choose what I considered the best or worse). Both students are English Language Learners receiving the same interventions, both have two working parents at home, both are considered low-income, both have families involved in school activities, and both are “well-behaved” students. Can you guess which book belongs to the Vietnamese student, and which one is black?
Don’t worry; it doesn’t make you racist.
We’ve heard all the statistics. Nationwide, only 55% of black males can read on level in the third grade, compared to 84% of white males. By eleventh grade, it’s down to 25%, compared to 65% of white males. City and state officials report using literacy rates to project jail and prison allocations. In a low-income Boston school, 25% of black fifth grade students were proficient or advanced on ELA MCAS in 2012, compared to 47% of Asian students.
I hope these numbers are shocking, whether it’s the second or fiftieth time you are reminded of them. Black students, and males in particular, are making some progress, but at such slow rates. Teachers face a daunting task, and it should be clear that we can’t do it alone.
Some don’t believe in the achievement gap, or it’s severity. However, it suddenly gets real when they encounter thugs terrorizing their neighborhood.
One response to “Achievement Gap”
Wow…this puts so many things in perspective and sets off alarms. Parents must read with and to their kids…literate habits must be cultivated and education must take place outside of school. The prison factoid got to me the most. But also..for those Black boys who are equal or higher in reading ability we need to go a long way to protect them in their journey. Not just from assumptions of “acting white” but societal expectations that intelligence and literacy are not authentically Black. Thank you.