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With NCLB Waiver, Virginia Sorts Kids' Scores By Race 622

According to a story at Northwest Public Radio, the state of Virginia's board of education has decided to institute different passing scores for standardized tests, based on the racial and cultural background of the students taking the test. Apparently the state has chosen to divide its student population into broad categories of black, white, Hispanic, and Asian — which takes painting with a rather broad brush, to put it mildly. From the article (there's an audio version linked as well): "As part of Virginia's waiver to opt out of mandates set out in the No Child Left Behind law, the state has created a controversial new set of education goals that are higher for white and Asian kids than for blacks, Latinos and students with disabilities. ... Here's what the Virginia state board of education actually did. It looked at students' test scores in reading and math and then proposed new passing rates. In math it set an acceptable passing rate at 82 percent for Asian students, 68 percent for whites, 52 percent for Latinos, 45 percent for blacks and 33 percent for kids with disabilities." (If officially determined group membership determines passing scores, why stop there?) Florida passed a similar measure last month.
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With NCLB Waiver, Virginia Sorts Kids' Scores By Race

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  • by devnullkac ( 223246 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @12:47PM (#41968979) Homepage

    The headline is misleading. The actual pass/fail line for each student is unchanged. The state is changing what it considers an acceptable aggregate rate of passing for groups of students, choosing race as the criterion for grouping. The stated rationale is that students of different races have different starting points, so it makes sense to seek different final achievement levels. But even if you accept that approach, it seems lazy to use race as a surrogate for academic starting point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:03PM (#41969273)

    I fear that unless we can find a way to tie tie moonshine NASCAR to education somehow, we'll continue to remain second-class learners.

    Done. NASCAR Technician Training at UTI []

    Moonshine is practically public domain. I'm sure you can find The Foxfire Book [] at your public library.

    After finishing the still, finishing the math PhD was the hardest thing I ever did.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @02:19PM (#41970611) Homepage Journal

    The only racial purity left is with the hopelessly inbred European royals

    Nah, they tend to be Caucasian, so they're hybrid Cro Magnon and Neanderthal types. The only purebloods left are Africans. Yeah, smoke that in your peacepipe, racists.

  • Re:Offensive (Score:5, Informative)

    by CowTipperGore ( 1081903 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @02:23PM (#41970697)

    No, and if you bothered to read past the intentionally flamebait summary, you would see that isn't what they're doing.

    The NCLB act requires states to meet benchmarks on student standardized testing and to demonstrate progress in areas where they are deficient. Virginia's proposal actually makes sense, for the most part. They have identified that their scores can be segregated into cohorts that are easy to track. Rather than expect the entire population to meet overall improvement levels each year, they want to raise up each group at rate realistic for them. If a category of students are consistently scoring at 50%, a second group at 75%, and a third group at 85%, they are saying it makes more sense to expect each group to demonstrate progress instead of just asking the entire population to hit, for example, 80%.

    This change has no impact on the expectations of individual students. The new pass rates are for how they track their progress as a state. Virginia wants to say that if they can show that group 1 improved from a 50% to 62% in three years, they have succeeded with them even if the state didn't hit a global target.

    The problem I have is that race is being used as a proxy for what is most likely a set of complex socio-economic factors. Bringing in more wealthy Hispanics will most assuredly raise that population's test scores without the state doing anything differently. But cultural and social indicators are more difficult to track than a few big racial categories, so they've picked an easy but weak measurement tool.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @02:29PM (#41970831)

    Tiger Woods is mostly Asian; racially he is only 25% black. For him and his sponsors there is a greater commercial value to promoting him as "black" than "Asian", so that's what they do.

  • The real story behind the movie is even more interesting. Escalante did a ton of work to change the curriculum at all grade levels, for one thing. Check out one account : []

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman