Sunday, October 12, 2008

Decline in Enrollment Exceeds Decline in School Age Population

Please see our new Featured Topic on this issue.


Anonymous said...

Well, I can account for one child I moved to private school in the city based on how poorly the Schenley situation was handled and my lack of confidence in the board, (including my elected board member) and the Roosevelt administration. Funny that in the recent PG article Mr. Roosevelt said he was going to contact families who have left the district and ask them why. In the Spring I wrote to him and all the board members about how I felt compelled to move my child, and nobody ever tried to ask me anything or to convince me to keep my kid in the PPS.

Roy said...

When considering the PPS the middle class parents in Pittsburgh hear this simple message "...the Pittsburgh city schools really suck right now but don't worry we are working really hard to fix things..." Middle class parents are not willing to send their children to a bad school system, so no wonder they are leaving in droves. But in reality the Pittsburgh Public Schools are actually pretty good, and white students in the PPS do about the same as white students in the suburbs, and black students in the PPS do about the same as black students in the suburbs. The only difference is that there is a higher fraction of blacks in the PPS compared to most of the suburban districts.
The message from the PPS should be: "we strive to offer excellent educational opportunities to all students and currently black and white students do as well or better in the PPS as they do in our region's suburban school districts". Instead the message from the PPS is always one of harping on the fact that black students perform academically at a much lower level than white students. So PPS officials and the local news media always talk about how the PSSA scores in the city schools are lower than in the suburbs, but that is merely because the fraction of black students is higher in the city. The fact is that blacks in the suburban school districts actually do no better (they actually do slightly worse) on PSSA tests compared to blacks in the PPS. But regardless of this fact the overall message from Roosevelt and the PPS is essentially "...the city school system really sucks right now but you just wait a few years and after we institute all these new programs and eliminate the racial achievement gap...then in that wonderful day in the future the PPS will be a good school system..." Unfortunately most middle class white and Asian parents only hear the part about how bad the city schools currently are because the average PSSA scores are so low (but actually on a per race basis they are just as high or higher than the suburban schools, but parents never hear this because the PPS and the local media feel that this information is not politically correct). The simple fact is that no school district anywhere, let me repeat, NO SCHOOL DISTRICT ANYWHERE, has ever succeeded in eliminating the racial academic achievement gap. Most experts in educational psychology realize that the racial academic achievement gap is simply a direct reflection of the racial gap in IQ-type intelligence. IQ-type intelligence is one of the most genetically heritable of all mental traits and can not be changed by things like Head Start Preschool Programs. If the PPS persists in linking the success of the city schools to elimination of the racial achievement gaps in the city schools, then the PPS will continue to be perceived as a "bad school system". Instead the PPS should say, "we will strive to offer all students every opportunity to tackle the most rigorous educational curriculum that they are capable of handling". And they should emphasize that white (and black) students in the PPS do just as well as white (and black) students in the suburban school systems when compared on a per race basis. Only when the PPS gets real about racial differences in academic ability--and stops making success of the PPS contingent upon closing the racial academic achievement gap (a totally impossible goal)--will the PPS have any hope in retaining middle class white and Asian families.

Questioner said...

Can you name ANY credible expert who attributes racial achievement gaps to differences in IQ?

Roy said...

In response to comments by Questioner-

The notion that ethnic/racial differences in academic achievement are largely the result of ethnic/racial differences in IQ-type intelligence was propounded almost 40 years ago by the famous Berkeley educational psychologist Arthur Jensen in a highly cited paper in the Harvard Education Review journal titled "How Much Can We Boost I.Q. and Scholastic Achievement?".

Several years ago Linda Gottfredson, professor at U of Delaware, wrote a position statement "Mainstream Science on Intelligence" that was signed by over fifty leading experts on human intelligence and educational psychology. This paper and others are available at Dr. Gottfredson's website or at Wikipedia.

Leaving aside the highly contentious issue of to what extent ethnic/racial differences in IQ are due to genetic differences rather than environmental differences, most experts on human intelligence and academic ability will agree with the following statements:

1) Significant ethnic/racial group differences in average IQ are seen worldwide and have persisted through many decades; in the USA the approximate average IQs of various ethnic/racial groups are: blacks 85, Hispanics 89, American Indians 89, gentile whites 100, East Asians (Japanese, Koreans, Chinese) 106, and Jews 115.

2) The average academic achievement levels of the various ethnic/racial groups closely parallel the group differences in average IQ, e.g. the black-white IQ difference is about one standard deviation, and the black-white math achievement test difference is about one standard deviation.

3) IQ-type intelligence is strongly influenced by genetic factors which account for about 70 to 80% percent of the variation in IQ scores in adolescents and adults (in young children the environment has a larger effect).

4) IQ-type intelligence is the single most important factor that influences academic achievement test performance. In older children (middle school and high school) scores on standardized achievement tests, especially math tests, correlate very strongly (about 0.7 to 0.9) with scores on IQ tests.

In addition to Jensen and Gottfredson, various other leading experts who I believe would agree with these four statements include:

Ian Deary, Edinburgh Univ
Thomas Bouchard, U of Minn
Wendy Johnson, Edinburgh Univ and U of Minn
Matt McGue, U of Minn
Robert Plomin, Kings College London
Stephen Petrill, Ohio State Univ
Douglas Detterman, Case Western Univ
Robert Sternbert, Tufts
David Lubinski, Vanderbilt
Camilla Benbow, Vanderbilt
Heiner Rindermann, U of Magdeburg
James Heckman, U of Chicago
Roland Fryer, Harvard
Dorret Boomsma, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Nancy Segal, CSU Fullerton
John DeFries, U of Colo
Nick Martin, U of Queensland
David Geary, U of Missouri

These are many of the world's top experts on human intelligence and academic ability. If you email any of these experts and any of them disagree with any of these four statements, please post their specific responses here on this blog.

Questioner said...

Here I think is a good response as to why the debate among some researchers over race and IQ cannot be a factor in decisions about the public schools:

Roy said...

Turkheimer's argument can be paraphrased as "Well the arguments of Jensen and Gottfredson may well be factually correct, BUT THEIR ARGUMENTS ARE NOT NICE so let us all pretend that Jensen and Gottfredson are wrong. Yes, it is true that Chinese tend to be way smarter than Africans, but that is an ugly thought so everybody should pretend that it is not true".

Gottfredson decimates Turkheimer in her response.

Modern civilization and scholastic inquiry are based on the principles of the Enlightenment, the notion that truth is established through rational consideration of the empirical evidence, instead of resorting to dogmatic, emotional, or religious claims. The great thinkers of the enlightenment (Bacon, Paine, Voltaire, Priestly, Jefferson, Locke, Hume etc.) would roll over in their graves if they could know that Turkheimer, a professor at a major university, is making such base appeals to irrationality and emotion and blatently demanding that scholars reject empirical reason for the sake of appearing to be nice. I consider Turkheimer to be an anti-intellectual idealogue who recognizes that his position on the Race/IQ issue is devoid of truth so therefore Turkheimer resorts to disgusting demagoguery.

Anonymous said...

Can't we just as easily conclude that no racial achievement gap exists, but rather a gap defined by zip code, # of generations of family home ownership, etc?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Questioner said...

Turkheimer said:

The history of Africans in the modern West is roughly as follows: Millennia of minding their own business in Africa, followed by 200 years of enslavement by a foreign civilization, followed by 100 years of Jim Crow oppression, followed by fifty years of very incomplete equality and freedom. And now the scientific establishment, apparently even the progressive scientific establishment, is impatient enough with Africans’ social development that it seems reasonable to ask whether the problem is in the descendants of our former slaves’ genes. If that isn’t offensive I don’t know what is.

Roy said...

Anonymous said...
Can't we just as easily conclude that no racial achievement gap exists, but rather a gap defined by zip code, # of generations of family home ownership, etc?

The racial achievement gap is present at all socioeconomic levels, and is larger in the children of college grads compared to children of high school grads. In fact the children of black college grads show achievement test scores that are lower than the children of white high school dropouts.

"rather a gap defined by zip code, # of generations of family home ownership"

Oh, I see, the problem of low academic achievement in black and Hispanic children is because of lower home ownership amongst black and Hispanic parents. Hmm, maybe we could get the federal government to institute programs to loosen the restrictions on granting mortgages to blacks and Hispanics. We could have lower requirements for downpayments and we can stop demanding proof of adequate income, and we can have ultra-affordable low intitial rates. We can call these subprime loans. We could pressure federal government-associated financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy up these subprime mortgages that are concentrated in black and Hispanic neighborhoods. We can call it the Community Reinvestment Act. With this imprimatur from the federal government, before long lots of private financial institutions will be buying up these subprime mortgages too.

Oh but wait, I guess we already tried that approach during the past fifteen years, oh my! now it has resulted in a global financial collapse! Well lets just wait a year or two and then we can try it again...after all if only more blacks and Hispanics could become homeowners then their children will get higher scores on academic achievement tests. Sounds pretty logical don't you think?

Some articles about how the mortgage mess was caused by trying to lower lending standards inorder to increase minority homeownership:

Questioner said...

We really need to stay on topic.

Parents, at least those already in the city, know to look beyond average test scores and instead to look for programs that will be good for their child in particular. So test scores probably do not explain the decline in enrollment.

justaparent said...

Questioner is correct, we really do need to stay on topic. roy, your comments make me think deeper and do my own research, and yes, I walked right into the home ownership issue. I am reminded of a term I first heard the superintendent use at a community meeting "pockets of greatness" in describing the district. If we are honest, some of us might admit that when choosing a magnet program, for example, we do so to remove our kids from the neighborhood element or peer group we do not approve of. Do ALL kids do better academically in a magnet, regardless of race? We need to look at reports and data specifically for PPS and that is what I find troubling about the info roy presented here. If I had to guess, a greater deterent to improving individual success, is behavior. Kids have forgotten how to be quiet, how to be polite, how to NOT seek to be the center of attention. Kids are in shock when they get busted for breaking a school rule and have to face the consequences. Stricter enforcement of school rules is the new norm at least where my kids go. My opinion on why we are just moving in this direction now would take to long to explain.

Anonymous said...

Back to the topic of the decline in enrollment: Is there any way to get enrollment figures for the charter schools, specifically the cyber school? I heard today of a Schenley student who is leaving Reiz. to start at the cyber school. Does anyone know of others? The charter schools are considered to be public schools and are paid with our tax $$$ so the info should be available somewhere.

Questioner said...

I'm sure we can get cyber school figures, hopefully by grade- we'll look into it.

Why is the Schenley student switching to cyber school? What grade is the student in?

Anonymous said...

Don't know much info on the boy who is a junior. I think that he had attended private schools prior to Schenley, but not sure.

Questioner said...

An Editorial, "Promising schools: City enrollment will need more than scholarships" is in today's PG.