kitchen table math, the sequel: black and Hispanic children in a National School of Excellence

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

black and Hispanic children in a National School of Excellence

In 2007, no black and Hispanic students passed the 2007 math and ELA state assessments here in Irvington, $22, 000 per pupil spending.

Nary a one.

And, with that, I am going to go and pour myself a glass of life-extending red wine.

Back tomorrow.

black and Hispanic students in a Natl School of Excellence
news from nowhere, redux
meanwhile, somewhere in a parallel universe
things my child learned about gay women in school this week
also playing in a parallel universe
email to the principal, part 2
ktm-2 readers make up a word problem for IMS
profiles in courage
new talent at the forum
my tax dollars at work
character education emergency
invitation to the dance



SteveH said...

And the tests are trivial. You can learn everything you need to know during the day, with no homework. The damage is done in K-6 with low expectations and little focus on content and skills. After sixth grade, they blame external factors.

Schools just don't do (and appreciate) what parents do at home. Most parents make sure learning happens. Schools don't do that. That's why I believe a lot can be learned by looking at individual kids and what their parents do, not at statistics. Schools want more parental involvement because they see a correlation with student results (statistics). They just don't realize what that connection really involves (study individual cases). This involves things that the school should be doing. Nobody can argue against parental involvement, but what are the details - practicing math facts at home? In other words, doing their job?

There is also their very fuzzy idea of what constitutes a proper education in K-6. Our senator is a co-sponsor of a bill that would require(?) more environmental field trips. Kids get to learn about the environment, appreciate the outdoors more, and get some exercise. They think that an increased focus on testing has reduced field trips. This is yet another attack on minimal skills and knowledge. Apparently, schools cannot get little Johnnie to know how many fourths are in a whole by fourth grade and still go on field trips.

Kids need to be able to go to schools that do what many parents do. (shouldn't have to do) They need to go to schools that set high standards of content and skills in K-6. They need to go to schools that can get this done and still have time for field trips. They need choice.

We all do.

Independent George said...

I'm speechless. I expected it to be low, but... zero?!!

Presumably, we're also talking about the children of middle-class black & hispanic professionals. This is beyond outrageous.

Independent George said...

Actually, now that I think about it, I'm wondering if the zero might be a scoring error. For all my cynicism, that just seems way, way, too low to be correct.

Maybe I'm being naive, but I just don't see how that could possibly be true.

Independent George said...

By comparison, here's the 2005-6 report card for my old high school.

It's a Jr.-Sr. high school and not a middle school, but the grade 7-8 data should be comparable.

Start by noting the demographic differences on page 3 - 75% black, 12% hispanic, 11% asian, 1% white. It's the white & asian kids not included in the disaggregated data due to small group size. I didn't find the per-pupil spending numbers, but I believe it's in the $12,000 neighborhood.

Disaggregated scoring data for grades 7-8 appear on pages 21-25. It's generally in the neighborhood of 90% range for level 2, 60% level 3, and around 5-10% for level 4. Honestly, I'm not sure what those numbers mean, but I'm assuming that level 1 is failing, 2 is passing, and 3 is proficient.

Catherine, I haven't been a NY resident in over 10 years - is this the correct data? Am I making an apples-to-apples comparison?

LynnG said...


Amazing. I think we may have the same situation here. We only have 7 black/hispanic kids in the 10th grade and they are all here through Project Choice -- Hartford kids sent to the burbs to improved racial integration (I'm sorry, reduce isolation and improve diversity).

So these aren't necessarily kids of the middle class. But they've been fed a steady diet of Impact Math in the MS and IMP in the HS.

I can't speak for Irvington, but here are black/hispanic kids don't have parental support to tackle the algebra and geometry on the 10th grade test. And they have a terrible curriculum in elementary, middle and high school. They are doomed.

Independent George said...

Let me also add that I will never, ever, make fun of my schooling again. I feel a long, weepy tribute to my favorite teachers coming on...

Catherine Johnson said...

I actually had to go to my neighbor's house and cry about that zero.

And I NEVER cry.

Except in movies.

Catherine Johnson said...

Every once in awhile a really sad advertisement will get to me, too.

Catherine Johnson said...

I don't think this is a mistake.

Listen to this.

My guess was 50% passed, 50% failed.

Chris' guess was that just 1 black child passed.

AND: he based that guess on his friend K. whose mother is black; he thought his friend would pass, but none of the other black kids would pass. (He didn't realize we were talking about last year's 8th grade class.)

Chris is much closer to the ground than we are; he's in that school every day.

He guessed that only one black child would pass.

Later on, I asked Christian to guess (for visitors: Christian is 29, black, attended Mamaroneck & Yonkers schools -- and has spent time inside the middle & high schools here).

Christian guessed 0.

When I asked him why 0, he said, "Because black people don't pass tests. And because it's Irvington."

I couldn't get any more out of him; he's one of the smartest people I know -- a natural -- and his "guess" was correct.

In fact, it wasn't a guess.

Catherine Johnson said...

Presumably, we're also talking about the children of middle-class black & hispanic professionals.

Well, that's been the source of some confusion around here.

In fact, most of these kids are not middle class -- and the one middle/upper middle class Hispanic boy in Chris's grade is super-smart.

I don't know the SES of the 4 Hispanic kids in that class.

The black kids, most of them, live in....I keep forgetting the term for it. It's a form of subsidized housing here in Irvington (or, technically, Tarrytown).

It's a very nice townhouse development, and "all" the black kids live there. This is the word that's always used, "all." The black kids "all" live there, and "all" ride to school on the same bus.

So, in fact, these are probably low-income black kids; I know that some of them come from single-parent families, because I met one family.

Catherine Johnson said...

Irvington has quite a few racially mixed where are they?

How are they doing?

And how are they classified?

I don't know the answer to that -- and I'm not going to try to learn the answer because I believe this crosses into privacy issues, etc.

Catherine Johnson said...

The 8th grade tests aren't trivial.

Across the country, 8th grade tests are in a different category; typically they're far more difficult than any other test in any other grade.

Apparently the purpose is to give high schools a heads-up: this is where the kids are; this is the work you face.

I don't know if some of remember the horrific Board meeting I attended a year ago -- this was the meeting where the administration was presenting data on the very bad 8th grade scores (for all kids).

I'll find the link.

In part, they blamed it on a handful of low-scoring kids who had moved into the district.

Things got really ugly after that.

Independent George said...

I'm beginning to understand the ancient Greeks - I just can't wrap my head around 'zero'. It just DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Catherine Johnson said...

That is a long post, but it's worth looking at:

* 43% of Irvington fourth graders in 2001-2002 scored a 4; 42% scored a 3, 13% scored a 2%; 1% scored 1

UPDATE: in fact, this figure — the figure for school year 2001-02 — was not presented to us at the Board meeting.

I had to look it up.

*16.7% of the 8th graders in 2005-2006 scored a 4; 61.1% scored a 3; 22.2% scored 2s & 1s

Those last two figures are for the same class of kids. 43% get 4s when they're in 4th grade; 4 years later, in 8th, we're down to 16.7% scoring 4.

This was easily explained away by our Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Ralph Napolitano:

* a couple of ELA teachers took sudden leaves, so lots of last year's 8th graders were taught by substitutes

* 18 new students moved into the district, 14 of whom were "receiving services" (mostly 504C or "building support"), and dragged our scores down (total class size: approximately150)

* you really can't compare one year's kids to any other year's kids anyway because "the scaling might be different" (not a direct quote, unfortunately, but close)

There were no dissenters from this view (from all 3 of these views, I should say), although a couple of board members did ask questions which, if the point had been pressed, could have been probing. No probing occurred, however.

Under questioning, Ralph's presentation of self was masterful. When a Board member asked whether other districts include high-end special needs kids in their stats he lowered his voice a bit, assumed an intimate and confiding tone that cast a spell on the room, and said, "Well, you know, I think these days [meaningful look] they'd probably be in some serious trouble if they didn't include their special needs students in their data. But they didn't always..." and he trailed off.

The effect of this was to divert the room from a possible consideration of whether 14 kids receiving services can cause a 50% decline in 4s* to a general recognition of the virtue displayed by our Irvington administrators, who can be counted upon to tell the truth when other lesser school districts are fudging their numbers. Or used to fudge their numbers, as the case may be.

The question of how many 504C students moved into districts that didn't experience a 50% decline didn't come up.


The 8th grade test, Ralph said, was for some reason "more difficult" than any of the other tests & thus tells us nothing of value about our schools or our kids. We know this because, as he said, "Look at the Regents [exit] scores. They're very high. Everyone goes down in 8th grade. In 11th grade they're back." That last is a direct quote. “In 11th grade they’re back.”

"I can attest to that," the board president said, breaking in. His kids' scores had gone down in the 8th grade and then bounced back in the 11th. It is a universal phenomenon; it happens to everyone.

"The 8th grade test is unnecessarily difficult," Ralph agreed.

And that was that.

[for some reason I can't get the Comments window to accept a link]

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm beginning to understand the ancient Greeks - I just can't wrap my head around 'zero'. It just DOES NOT COMPUTE.

I KNOW!!!!!!!

ME, TOO!!!!!!

I had to go to my neighbor's house and CRY about that zero.

If it had been ONE -- ONE BLACK STUDENT PASSED -- I bet I wouldn't have cried. One would have been a percentage of 7%, and I would have been outraged.


Zero is a very strange beast.

Nobody wants to hear "zero."

Catherine Johnson said...

This is bizarre.

I absolutely cannot leave a link.

OK, I'm going to separate the link into different chunks. Anyone who's interested in looking at the original page will have to put it back together.

http: // www.


Sorry about that.

Just cut and paste these 3 lines into your browser sequentially, obviously.

The original post should come up.

It's worth looking at, because it has information on how our best students in the U.S. are doing.

Catherine Johnson said...

My neighbor also kept slamming into the ZERO.

She's a statistican, so she started running through all the confounding variables, different possible interpretations, etc.

Every time she did that she banged into the zero again.

She'd think out loud, running through the possibilites, then she'd stop, frown at the print-out, and say, "Still, that's zero."

I'm going to have to read that book on the discovery of zero.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm going to try another link...

If you look at this chart...hmmm. It may not support my statement about the overall difficulty of 8th grade tests.

In terms of New York, you can see that our 8th grade ELA exam, which our former assistant superintendent characterized as "unnecessarily difficult," is the only test we have that is within calling distance of NAEP.


for Pete's sake.

I wonder if something's wrong with my URL code??




Johnny Can Some States
by Paul E. Peterson & Frederick M. Hess
Summer 2005
vol. 5, no. 3

Catherine Johnson said...

Is this wrong???

” http: //”


Catherine Johnson said...

That didn't work.

I'm going to use spacing this time.

Here's the code I'm using:

< a h r e f = ” h t t p : / / w w w . l i n k ” > Ti t l e < / a >

Catherine Johnson said...

Is that wrong???

Independent George said...

The only thing I can see is that you've got the closed-quotes before the URL; is your computer doing that automatically?

Independent George said...


Doug Sundseth said...

Your link should look like this:

<a href="">Link text<\a>

For the current KTM, using that syntax:

KTM, the sequel

I suspect from the bit you copied in that you are using "smart quotes" (typeset left and right double quotes) in whatever editor you are composing the comment in. That can kill the html, since those quotes are different characters and aren't interpreted correctly.

Catherine Johnson said...

I've been cutandpasting ahref from Scrivener (the softare I use now) -- I wonder if that's the problem?

I used to be able to do it ok.