Sunday, January 8, 2012

Achievement gap

On another post (involving administration of majority AA schools) Anonymous wrote the following, which applies to majority AA and non-majority AA schools and so will be a new post:


What is the difference between the achievement of African American students in majority White schools as compared to majority Black schools?

Whether there is a majority or minority the results are not very different.

The NON-proficiency rates at Langley and Perry for Black students in Math is 70% to 80% not proficient, right? Is that “doing pretty well” ?

Look at the achievement for Black students in any and all schools. There is no equity or excellence for Black students. A predominantly “white” curriculum across disciplines, in conjunction with a predominantly “white” faculty does not allow Black students to see themselves as successful in the school or in the world.

Do you not think that this situation might be an advantage to White students?


Anonymous said...

Let's fire all the white folks because surely they are to blame for all the issues that impact black children - what is wrong with people???

Anonymous said...

What is a "predominately white curriculum"? And if such exists can it truly be across disciplines? What would "white physics" look like? I see how social studies or English might be considered slanted to race or ethnicity, but not much else. We have had the debate here before about literature selection.

Anonymous said...

Well with the "resegregation" plan for next year's high schools--Brashear losing Hazelwood and the Hill -- people who feel there is a "white curriculum" can now show us all what "black algebra" really looks like.
Separate but equal was ruled illegal-- many African Americans in Pittsburgh have looked to the integrated magnet schools to give their students a fair shot.

Anonymous said...

Do you really mean that there is no way to connect physics, math, sciences, art, music, technology, psychology, etc. (and yes, literature) in a culturally relevant design/content to other than white, European, American contributions to curricula, lessons, and textual as well as situational teaching, learning and assessment?

If you concede that the possibility to do this exists, then why is it not done? Why is it not an integral part of the education in PPS?

Anonymous said...

And, Allderdice losing East Hills.

Additionally, would that "people" could "show us all what black algebra" might look like. However, there are no such options for teachers or schools.

Just ask the administrators at Westinghouse and University Prep. They will state outright and publicly that they are bound by PPS Core Curriculum which is relatively devoid of such choices. There is NO autonomy in PPS, right? Teachers are just there to read the script on the designated days. Educators? Education?


Questioner said...

In most math and science classes only a tiny fraction of time is devoted to identifying the source (name, nationality, gender, etc.) of contributions to that field of study. But in any event, what African contributions to algebra, physics and other sciences is PPS overlooking in its curriculum?

Anonymous said...

Here is an example of predominantly white math curriculum.
The link is listed so you can read the entire article.

Third graders in in Gwinnett County, Ga., were given math homework Wednesday that asked questions about slavery and beatings [from cross-curriculum] at Beaver Ridge Elementary school in Norcross.

The question read, "Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?"

Another math problem read, "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?"

Another question asked how many baskets of cotton Frederick filled. [Frederick is a slave].

Questioner said...

What a bizarre math lesson- so strange that it showed up on national news.

Anonymous said...

"Here is an example of predominantly white math curriculum."

Uh, so you're saying that "predominantly white" means only racist? Uhh, I don't think that's what most people mean. Yes, that's a stupid and bad example of how to introduce race in a horrible way.

But that isn't a "predominantly white" curriculum and if you make people think that's what's meant, everything short of outright racist things could be seen as okay. :-p

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:37 has gently brought us back from the outrage over the Gwinnett story. There needs to be more investigation and reporting on how such questions got onto any test or in any lesson. That is not what I'd call "white curriculum" either. Somebody approved those questions.

Anonymous said...

There will always be a few nut cases unfortunately.

You don't hear much about it but PPS has a school designed to be culturally relevant, the African Centered Academy in the Hill District.

Anonymous said...

I agree-- this is an isolated case of crazy- but for the most part as we look at STEM classes at the hs level--I think most are without bias and we need all students to see relevance in these subjects

Anonymous said...

In PPS a few years back there was a highly controversial item on a standardized test that was racially insensitive, but was approved by PPS administration. The test was only removed after Dr. Holley and other black administrators complained, LOUDLY.

Everyday Math can be viewed as predominantly white curriculum because it does not work well for black children. Ask Dr. Holley why she did not want to use it at her predominantly black school.

If we want to really help black children, we need to understand how culture affects learning for them. It is often a sensitive subject because of labelibg. It is not always racism, but ignorance. I am talking from experience. It is not always easy to teach what you don't know or have not lived. Even some blacks don't know or understand what these poor black children are dealing with. They can learn when we teach the way they learn.

Anonymous said...

Do children really need to be separated by race to receive an appropriate curriculum? Where do you send the mixed race children? This is getting ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't believe children need separate curriculum, just good curriculum. Curriculum should be reviewed and approved by those who will be using it and who work with the children, not just the few at the top who are not working with the children, and are far removed from the children and reality.

PPS does have excellent teachers who need excellent curriculum, not a robotic curriculum that is a disservice to our staff and children.

Oh, I forgot, the robots are currently in charge.

Anonymous said...

So everyday math is not a predominantly white curriculum, just not a very good curriculum for children.

Questioner said...

Does anyone know of a school district that does offer an excellent math curriculum, and has that curriculum been suggested to PFS?

Anonymous said...

-- So everyday math is not a predominantly white curriculum, just not a very good curriculum for children. --

EM works well for mathematically-minded children with mathematically-minded parents. If you love math and "get" math (in the same way some people "get" singing in tune or pick up reading on their own, without teaching) then it's a great curriculum.

As a curriculum for the rest of the kids? Not so good. Not good for kids who are average or below in math skills (so there's at least 68% of kids) or kids who don't have parents at home who can fill in the gaps they notice developing or kids with any sort of learning difficulties.

The concept of spiraling (expose the children to a concept, but don't expect that they'll get it this time, but maybe next year when they are exposed again...or the year after) rather than teaching to mastery really doesn't seem to work. EM works for kids who DO get the concept to mastery when it blows by them. Not for the kids who don't.

Successful schools do use manipulatives and hands-on activities for math. But they also teach concepts to mastery. They work on an age-appropriate skill and they make sure that it is learned well enough to be a foundation for the next unit/concept etc.

The current elementary curriculum makes more of an effort toward some mastery. However, the highly scripted lessons do not allow for a teacher to teach the concept in different/better/more direct way, nor do they allow the teacher leeway in reviewing or reteaching as needed. You have to stick with the schedule and the script, whether it's working or not.

Questioner said...

When was everyday math adopted? An educated guess might be- some time after 2005, on a broad scale without much of a pilot to test it out, and no real plan B since the assumption was that it would work.

Anonymous said...

"When was everyday math adopted? An educated guess might be- some time after 2005, on a broad scale without much of a pilot to test it out, and no real plan B since the assumption was that it would work."

Nope, it's been around for ages in the PPS. I think they began piloting it in the mid 90s and had it in place through middle school math (Connected Math) within a few years.

Early on, they told people who didn't like it that they just weren't doing it well enough or completely enough. Then EM started noticing that you really do have to make kids learn, say, the basic facts. More drills were added, more practice was added.

EM has been in a LOT of districts for a LOT of years. Of course, how it was used is hard to determine. Many teachers likely used the best games and activities and methods of presentation and then filled in with other methods.

I believe Seattle has been in the midst of a huge keep or kill EM battle for years. Many other districts are getting rid of it and moving back toward more "conventional" curricula.

The PPS' newest K-5 math curriculum is probably less than 50% EM -- but the concepts of moving along at a rapid pace, with or without understanding, remains.

Questioner said...

It's surprising that so many consultant dollars later they have not come up with a better plan.

Anonymous said...

The kids who only knew EM/Connected math probably graduated in about '08.

Anonymous said...

EM was geared toward problem solving. Not to speak for Dr. Holley or others, but one reason it may not have seemd to work well with Black students is that much of the work was sent up as word problems. Up until EM, our Black students seemed to do better in traditonal Math than in reading. With EM's reading factor, there were problems. However, the students who did work through this, were well prepared for higher math

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:53 you wrote, "As a curriculum for the rest of the kids? Not so good. Not good for kids who are average or below in math skills (so there's at least 68% of kids) or kids who don't have parents at home who can fill in the gaps they notice developing or kids with any sort of learning difficulties. ".

You just described the majority of the PPS AA student population, that is why "some" believe EDM is not for black children, but a predominantly white curriculum. Our AA population did not do well when EDM was introduced and it got worse over time. The few pockets of success were in places staff "secretly" supplemented for black children. This is first-hand knowledge. Even with parents at home, they were not able to help their children with this math. Our teachers did not get it!

Those AA students who had EDM and connected math and then went onto college, usually had to take remedial math courses.

EDM did not fare well in black communities and not only in Pgh black communities. It did not do well in New York Hispanic or Black communities and others. Again, there were some pockets of success, but not many.

It is a good idea to look around to see what is working for ALL students. Just don't look at any districts getting Broad or Gates money.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:49 -- not only does that describe a majority of the AA kids in our district, but also of white kids, in general. Many private schools have also moved away from EM, finding that their (mostly white) students struggle with basic concepts long after they should have had them.

In Seattle, as mentioned, parents rose up against EM -- and it's not a majority AA school district. (Wikipedia says that in 2007:
By ethnicity:
White: 19,508 (42.8%)
Asian: 10,075 (22.1%)
Black: 9,735 (21.4%)
Hispanic: 5,304 (11.6%)
American Indian: 959 (2.1%))
Parents in many very white, upper middle class suburbs are also lobbying to get rid of EM (or have already gotten rid of it).

So, it's really not a racial problem with the program (and in elementary school, it really isn't any more text-based or word problem based than any other math program, though I could see in middle school math that it might have a bit more reading than some programs). It's that it teaches in a way that just isn't the best/most effective way to reach a majority of kids.

Obviously no program is going to be perfect for all kids, without some tweaks. But one that is really only good for 20-30% is just not acceptable. That same 20-30% is also likely to do well with almost any math program, since they're the strong in math kids to begin with!

Anonymous said...

In our experience, Everyday Math does _not_ work well for "mathematically-minded children with mathematically-minded parents"... the problem is that the EDM curriculum is too slow, too easy, and not challenging enough for students who like math. Kids who like/understand math get bored. EDM does not meet their needs.

To make matters worse, EDM is so anti-drill doesn't even teach kids the basic add/subtract/multiply/divide facts, so we (the parents) end up doing it outside of school on our own. Sorry, but "fact triangles" just don't cut it.

Google "math wars" for lots of debate about Everyday Math.

From talking to the staff at our school, it seems to me that they believe one of the reasons to choose EDM is that its slow spiraling curriculum works better for disadvantaged students. Now you guys are saying that isn't true... kind of ironic.

I can tell you what does work for kids that like math: the First In Math web site that PPS provides their students accounts on.

Anonymous said...

EDM is a waste of money. As a science teacher at the high school level, I witness the students' inability to do simple math problems daily. It doesn't matter what color they are. It is the program, not the students nor the teachers.

Anonymous said...

I never understood the position administrators took on EDM, why couldn't they just give the parents who complained long and loud just that one win by moving to something else. I am talking about several cycles of superintendents.

Anonymous said...

So rather than look at what works- diversity, and integrated environment, high standards for all students-- we hire highly -paid consultants to advise PELAS to get rid of a bell schedule for 11 year old 6th graders; allow a school to open without the CAS programs that students had in the previous year and assign teachers to a school so that we can then rate them out. If someone doesnt see purposeful racism in this...