Wednesday, April 19, 2006

AP on Education and NCLB

The Associated Press, in an article headlined States Omit Minorities' School Scores, engages in a nifty little piece of race-baiting. Check out the lead paragraphs from the story:

Laquanya Agnew and Victoria Duncan share a desk, a love of reading and a passion for learning. But because of a loophole in the No Child Left Behind Act, one second-grader's score in Tennessee counts more than the other's. That is because Laquanya is black, and Victoria is white.
An Associated Press computer analysis has found Laquanya is among nearly 2 million children whose scores aren't counted when it comes to meeting the law's requirement that schools track how students of different races perform on standardized tests.
This tone has carried over into the thoughts and beliefs of high school students.
"It's terrible," said Michael Oshinaya, a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in New York City who was among a group of black students whose scores weren't broken out as a racial category. "We're part of America. We make up America, too. We should be counted as part of America."

If you are part of America, why would you want to be counted separately? Reporting of school test scores in the aggregate tells the system how the school is performing across the board, and allows the school teachers and administration to take action toward helping those students who aren't making the cut. As an individual, knowing the overall average and your own score tells you where you stand. Do you really need to know where you stand versus all the other kids of your own particular minority group? The whole point of NCLB was to force schools to measure their progress, not to serve as another tool for balkanization of the population.

The article does raise a valid point: there is variation from state to state on what is an appropriate group size to exclude from reporting requirements. Clearly, if a minority group in a school is statistically small, it should not be reported separately and used as a measurement of school performance. Take the extreme example of a single black student in an otherwise all-white school. Reporting the subgroup would reveal that one student's scores in a public record. The article spends so much effort on the racial angle, they don't get around to mentioning the state-to-state variation until the 18th paragraph.
In the usual mainstream media fashion, the reporters choose only to share those bits of data that support their claims, and to portray them in the most negative light possible. Take this little tidbit, for example:
Less than 2 percent of white children's scores aren't being counted as a separate category. In contrast, Hispanics and blacks have roughly 10 percent of their scores excluded. More than one-third of Asian scores and nearly half of American Indian scores aren't broken out, AP found.
Restating the same data another way, 90% of black and hispanic students have their test scores reported in separate racial categories, in addition to being reported in the aggregate numbers. In other words (please forgive me for shouting), THE VAST MAJORITY ARE BEING REPORTED.

Not only are they being reported, but it's a good news story. I paid a visit to the National Center for Education Statistics, and pulled up data on 4th-grade mathematics on a national basis. What I found will never be printed in a mainstream media piece - since 1992, black student performance has been improving over 3% per year, compared with about 1.6% per year for white students.

As can be clearly seen in the chart above, the situation is improving. And with 90% of the black student population being included in the reports, it's very difficult to argue that the increased performance is due to statistical manipulation. Note that the white, hispanic, and black lines all follow similar trends.

The collective liberal media wants us to believe that ours is a racist nation, and that we continually seek to put down minorities at the expense of the white majority. It will spin any piece of information to serve its agenda. It's clear, when you look at the data, that the chosen storyline doesn't hold water. Americans should be insulted that the liberal media thinks it can get away with such deception.

Tags: New Jersey, Taxes, Education, Media Bias