June 15, 2009

Racial Gaps Drive School Policy, Part CMXXVII

In the wake of the Sputnik wake-up call in 1957, two of America's most distinguished technical managers, Admiral Hyman Rickover of the nuclear submarine navy and chemist James Conant, President of Harvard, debated how to improve schooling. Rickover advocated that America imitate the European system of separate schools for academic and vocational students based on ability testing. Conant countered by suggesting that rather than have separate schools, we should have large comprehensive schools with intensive tracking by ability within them. Conant won the debate (although one must wonder how much the advantage of large schools at winning football games played in the outcome). See historian Raymond Wolters' book Race and Education, 1954-2007 for details.

By the late 1960s, however, Conant's solution of tracking was coming under attack as concern shifted away from maximizing the individual potential of students and toward equalizing outcomes of racial groups.

The New York Times reports on one of the last vestiges of old-fashioned honest tracking:
Connecticut School District that Clung to Tracking Is Letting Go

STAMFORD, Conn. — Sixth graders at Cloonan Middle School here are assigned numbers based on their previous year’s standardized test scores — zeros indicate the highest performers, ones the middle, twos the lowest — that determine their academic classes for the next three years.

But this longstanding system for tracking children by academic ability for more effective teaching evolved into an uncomfortable caste system in which students were largely segregated by race and socioeconomic background, both inside and outside classrooms. Black and Hispanic students, for example, make up 46 percent of this year’s sixth grade, but are 78 percent of the twos and 7 percent of the zeros.

So in an unusual experiment, Cloonan mixed up its sixth-grade science and social studies classes last month, combining zeros and ones with twos. These mixed-ability classes have reported fewer behavior problems and better grades for struggling students, but have also drawn complaints of boredom from some high-performing students who say they are not learning as much.

Yeah, but who cares about helping high-performing students live up to their potential? What have smart, well-educated people ever done for the human race?

The results illustrate the challenge facing this 15,000-student district just outside New York City, which is among the last bastions of rigid educational tracking more than a decade after most school districts abandoned the practice. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Stamford sorted students into as many as 15 different levels; the current system of three to five levels at each of four middle schools will be replaced this fall by a two-tiered model, in which the top quarter of sixth graders will be enrolled in honors classes, the rest in college-prep classes. (A fifth middle school is a magnet school and has no tracking.)

More than 300 Stamford parents have signed a petition opposing the shift, and some say they are now considering moving or switching their children to private schools. “I think this is a terrible system for our community,” said Nicole Zussman, a mother of two.

Ms. Zussman and others contend that Stamford’s diversity, with poor urban neighborhoods and wealthy suburban enclaves, demands multiple academic tracks, and suggest that the district could make the system fairer and more flexible by testing students more frequently for movement among the levels.

But Joshua P. Starr, the Stamford superintendent, said the tracking system has failed to prepare children in the lower levels for high school and college. “There are certainly people who want to maintain the status quo because some people have benefited from the status quo,” he said. “I know that we cannot afford that anymore. It’s not fair to too many kids.”

Educators have debated for decades how to best divide students into classes. Some school districts focus on providing extra instruction to low achievers or developing so-called gifted programs for the brightest students, but few maintain tracking like Stamford’s middle schools (tracking is less comprehensive and rigid at the town’s elementary and high schools).

Deborah Kasak, executive director of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, said research is showing that all students benefit from mixed-ability classes. “We see improvements in student behavior, academic performance and teaching, and all that positively affects school culture,” she said.

Daria Hall, a director with Education Trust, an advocacy group, said that tracking has worsened the situation by funneling poor and minority students into “low-level and watered-down courses.” “If all we expect of students is for them to watch movies and fill out worksheets, then that’s what they will give us,” she said.

In Stamford, black and Hispanic student performance on state tests has lagged significantly behind that of Asians and whites. In 2008, 98 percent of Asian students and 92 percent of white students in grades three to eight passed math, and 93 percent and 88 percent reading, respectively. Among black students, 63 percent passed math, and 56 percent reading; among Hispanic students, 74 percent passed math and 60 percent reading.

This is obviously an utterly unique situation in Stamford. I've never ever heard of any other school district in the country where Asians do best, whites second, Hispanics third, and blacks fourth. I'm baffled by the rank order of these results. Maybe there's something in the water in Connecticut because the only similar test I've ever heard of producing results like this was the New Haven firefighter's test that Sonia Sotomayor so rightly threw out for producing unheard of numbers. Obviously, Stamford needs to spend a fortune on a customized test that will produce less bizarre outcomes.

The district plans to keep a top honors level, but put the majority of students in mixed-ability classes, expanding the new system from sixth grade to seventh and eighth over three years. While the old system tracked students for all subjects based on math and English scores, the new one will allow students to be designated for honors in one subject but not necessarily another, making more students overall eligible for the upper track.

The staff of Cloonan Middle School decided to experiment with mixed-ability classes for the last eight weeks of this school year.

David Rudolph, Cloonan’s principal, said that parents have long complained that the tracking numbers assigned to students dictate not only their classes but also their friends and cafeteria cliques. Every summer, at least a dozen parents lobby Mr. Rudolph to move their children to the top track. “The zero group is all about status,” he said.

Jamiya Richardson, who is 11 and in the twos’ group, said that students all know their own numbers as well as those of their classmates. “I don’t like being classified because it makes you feel like you’re not smart,” she said. ...

Cloonan teachers say they had not changed the curriculum or slowed the pace for the mixed-ability classrooms, but tried to do more collaborative projects and discussions in hopes that students would learn from one another. But Joel Castle, who is 12 and a zero, said that he did not work as hard now. “My grades are going up, and that’s not really surprising because the standards have been lowered,” he said.

A couple of things to notice: First, the policy change is driven by racial gaps. Tracking makes the racial gaps visible, so it must be done away with.

Second, note that they aren't getting rid of tracking completely, they're just going from three tracks to two tracks. They're going to have an Honors Track for the top 25% of the kids. As you might imagine, the parents of the top 25% in Stamford tend to be high-powered people who work in Manhattan or at hedge funds in Greenwich or at marketing consulting firms in Darien or the like, and they will not put up with having their kids tossed in with underclass kids.

But middle class kids, well, too bad for them. They should have chosen their parents more wisely.

What we see across the country is that tracking constantly reappears in the public schools under various guises, as long as it's not called tracking -- Advanced Placement classes, magnet schools, science academies with schools, and so forth. Eventually, the enemies of tracking, who aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, figure out what's going on and stomp it out, only to have it reappear under a new name.

But it would be a lot more effective if we could track on a less ad hoc, less covert fashion. But we can't do that anymore because of racial gaps, which remain the single most dominant force in determining school policy.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

And in an utterly predictable fashion, the parents of the smart Asian and White kids will get lots of help for them and enrich their educations, or home school them.

Anonymous said...

I like how they say "an uncomfortable caste system in which students were largely segregated by race and socioeconomic background", then keep bringing up race over and over and NEVER say anything about "socioeconomic background".

I guess we just have to assume that all the black and hispanic kids were poor, while all the white and asian kids were rich? Otherwise it might be worthwhile to investigate the two issues separately. Unless we're afraid to discover that only one of these factors is predictive?

At least they admit the white and asian kids are bored in the new system.

Thursday said...

A fantastic book on the latest educational research is Daniel Willingham's Why Don't Students Like School? Not surprisingly, most of the traditional ideas about what makes for sound educational practice have been vindicate. For example, some degree of tracking helps both the smart and less smart students. Fairly obvious, I'd say. Willingham's a bit squishy on IQ, but the rest of the book is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, slow kids were being "cheated" by being grouped with other kids of similar ability where they could be taught at an appropriate level. This makes no sense.

If they put them all in one group and teach rigorously, the dumb kids (non-white, non-Jew, non Asian) fail. They get P-O-ed.

If they put them in tracked groups, the slow groups are all "nons". They get P-O-ed.

If they put them all in one group and make it so easy that all make "A"'s--oops! Now the non-nons are P-O-ed.

The real solution is to abolish government schools and get the political hacks out of the ed business.

Ron Guhname said...

Once in a while, someone asks why this obsession with HBD? Why should it matter? As a first answer, how about because race drives education policy.

Teacher said...

Many may not realize this, and of course many do, however generally only principals and district officials are allowed to comment publicly about what is going on in schools. I am not teaching in a district now, but teachers are not usually allowed to comment.

Anyway, another reason that schools like tracking is that it is much more cost effective. You can put 35 (or more) smart kids together in a class and they will learn, and behave well. Only about 30% of the staff is required to teach about 50% of the students. You can not put low ability students in that type of situation, and schools don't do it because those kids do not concentrate or behave well. Unlike elementary, in middle school there are no class size requirements. It would be legal to put 100 kids in a class. Tracking is more cost effective in another way, fewer kids fail and repeat because the classes are not too hard for the low ability kids. Some high school classes have failure rates as high as 50%.

Teachers in mixed level classes are required to write specific accommodations and enrichment into their lesson plans for students in their classes who have been identified either low or high ability, all without allowing it to affect kids grades. So on a multi guess test, I would have to cross out two of the four choices on each item for low ability kids, and have to assign extra stuff to the bright kids who already have an A average, so what is one more A to them? These measures were specifically required and compliance with them was included in my performance assessment. This kind of crap drives teachers out, some in favor of homeschooling their own kids so that neither they nor their children have to play this game.

State mandated tests are a boondoggle. They are a total waste of taxpayer money. We figured out that the passing score on the state test was roughly equivalent to the 30-35%tile on the Standford achievement test.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a family with 2 older brothers in California. Both of my brothers were MGMs (Mentally Gifted Minors)which meant that they scored in the top 2% I believe. I did not.

For some reason my parents did not let my brothers take the accellerated classes. I don't think they were worried about offending me but who knows. Even to this day my mother will not tell us what we scored on our IQ tests.

Now that we are all middle aged that decision has born mediocre fruit. I have done much better than my brothers in business and they never achieved anything like they were capable of.

Nora Helmer said...

"So in an unusual experiment, Cloonan mixed up its sixth-grade science and social studies classes last month, combining zeros and ones with twos."

It's the Scandinavian model! All people are "equal" so you throw all the school children in the same classes, and the smarter kids are bored out of their minds and learn more in their own spare time while the not-so-bright kids fall behind because the curriculum (being set at "average") is beyond them.

In the Scandinavian model, if you're rich or a politician you, of course, send your kids to a private school. The middle class gets screwed, as does the lower class. (Wait. I forgot. We don't *have* classes here in the last Soviet states in Europe.)

-----

"Cloonan teachers say they had not changed the curriculum or slowed the pace for the mixed-ability classrooms, but tried to do more collaborative projects and discussions in hopes that students would learn from one another."

What I remember about "collaborative projects" is that the smarter/more responsible kids did all the work while the lower-IQ kids just came along for the ride taking advantage of our hard work while they goofed off. Hated that!

Kevin I. Slaughter said...

"...extra instruction to low achievers or developing so-called gifted..."

how about instead "...so-called low achievers and gifted students..." Why use qualifying language on one instea... oh, I know why

Andrew Ryan said...

Very interesting post. My middle school had very obvious tracking with 0-5 for each grade level, I was a 0, we had most classes with 1's but had our own gifted and talented math classes.

As I recall, there were no black students in the 0's or 1's, and the 5's were entirely black with a healthy dose of white trash.

The tracking system was obvious to all of us, with the end result being the 4's and 5's hating our guts.

I had always assumed these numbered tracks based on test scores had gone the way of the dinosaur, and this post is a handy confirmation.

In high school we had general, business, college prep and honors tracks. I wonder if that is a bit more acceptable than a number.

Also notice in the school described in the article that all students will be in college prep or honors--God forbid a single one eschew college and, I don't know, make 50K+/year as a contractor, plumber, mechanic, etc. without a 100K+ in student loan debt.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, but who cares about helping high-performing students live up to their potential? What have smart, well-educated people ever done for the human race?"

You always seem on the verge of discovering that THE problem is auto-anti-intellectualism (i.e., self-hatred among intellectuals), rather than anything racial per se. And then you step back from the brink.

Prussian education makes smart kids suffer for being smart. They grow up hating themselves. They act out their self-hatred on the kids that remind them of themselves ... what is there to figure out? Blacks and Hispanics are out of the loop - they have nothing to do with this process.

RKU said...

"...And for the 57th straight year in a row, a period of exceptionally bad weather has prevented the Glorious Soviet System of Collectivized Agriculture from producing the outstanding production predicted by Marxist-Leninist Theory..."

Paavo said...

"But middle class kids, well, too bad for them. They should have chosen their parents more wisely."

Well, not all of the high-powered parents children will make it to the top quarter. Of course private school is easy option for them.

But this sentence supposes that, middle class kids have middle IQs as well. I don't think it is very clear. People in the top quarter of income probably don't always or almost always have kids who have top quarter IQs.

Having the IQ-limit at the top quartile makes sense, because there is an artificial limit at the bottom.

Paavo said...

I wonder if there is disparate effect on men, because men develop later in life.

Top Quartile tracking probably had bad effects for those barely making the top quartile. Status is important for males and when the top quartile consists of people up to very high IQs the boys barely making it will be at the bottom of their group all the time. This might cause them to lose motivation, because they are always losing.

Finland used to have a tracking system segregating vocational and academic careers at 10 years. Schools were mostly sex segregated. There were state schools and private schools. Private schools were mostly for children who didn't weren't good enough for academic state schools and had parents who appreciated higher education. Marxism changed this in the seventies.

I attended an state school that provided IB-diploma instead of the traditional finnish highschool diploma. We had tough entrance exams. 6 out of 26 students were boys, but only two boys (out of 6 compared to 18 out of 20 girls) graduated. The boys that weren't the best just dropped out and moved to less competetive finnish highschool program (or completely gave up on academic achievements).

ironrailsironweights said...

But middle class kids, well, too bad for them.

One fortunate thing is that there isn't much of a middle class in Stamford.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Dr Starr - the genius behind this 'transformation' is certainly enamoured with - drumroll - Malcolm Gladwell.

http://stamfordpublicschools.org/content/64/2839/default.aspx

Anonymous said...

Where I live that are three dozen private schools in a county of 150,000 which is 20% NAM. Funny, when I lived in Iowa there were not as many private schools. My hypothesis is that there are more private schools in places with high numbers of NAMs.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Robert Heinlein: "Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

Lucius Vorenus said...

But Joshua P. Starr, the Stamford superintendent, said the tracking system has failed to prepare children in the lower levels for high school and college.

The implicit assumption being that they were ever "preparable" in the first place.

Normally I'd ignore this nonsense, but I've drunk enough wine tonight that this story is getting me kinda depressed.

Anonymous said...

That's really too bad. More tracks is probably better, especially for the gifted children. A child with an IQ of 110 (~top 25%) also has very little in common with a child with an IQ of 140+. If it was me I would do it

IQ <90, 90-115,115-130, and 130+

Anonymous said...

My elementary and middle school had little tracking (just for math) and it was awful!

Anonymous said...

Tracking is a great idea and in the case of gifted kids will save them years of 'sitting around' and daydreaming.

thanks for pressing the issue.

nsam said...

There is almost perfect segregation by race in many large high schools. The honors and AP classes, which can be very selective, have very few (in absolute numbers) of black/hispanic kids; it is quite likely to not have a NAM classmate during the 4 years of high school. Perhaps some clever lawyer has figured out why this honors/AP arrangement is unconstitutional.

It would be interesting to chart the various "streaming" systems adopted across countries. In one south-east asian country there are branch points at the sixth grade, tenth grade, and twelfth grade. What this means of course is that those who are not academically inclined are streamed into vocational schooling after the sixth grade where they learn skilled trades, in addition to basic schooling, and join the work force after 4 years of training (they take a special version of the "O" level tenth grade exams). Such a system would be unthinkable in many countries but it seems to work here.

Lucius Vorenus said...

CMXXVII

1000 - 100 + 10 + 10 + 5 + 1 + 1

927, nearabouts as I can tell.

Filthy Vile Shegetz said...

non-white, non-Jew

Hey, I'm about as abominable as they come, but since when were Jews not "white"?

Anonymous said...

Heinlein was an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the idea that Jews are not white is peculiar. Maybe two thousand years ago they were "Semitic", but these days many are Russian, which is to say blond-haired blue-eyed Jews. Heck, Himmeler would have approved of them.

SFG said...

"Hey, I'm about as abominable as they come, but since when were Jews not "white"?"

You must be new here. ;)

(any other slashdot readers?)

Anonymous said...

The US education system is child abuse. Take your kids out of the clutches of these psychotic control freaks. The elites see your kids as a threat. They want the stupid ones in institutions and the smart ones medicated and as sheep-like and obedient as possible. They groom the Ivy Leaguers to manage this national system of debt slaves.

The USA is collapsing intellectually and economically and the Post-American Elite remains committed to dumping infinite dollars into a failed system.

CA governor Aaaahhnold is talking about replacing textbooks with digital files "to save money". By 2020 actual unfiltered American history texts will nearly impossible for students to access.

"NEVER LET A CRISIS GO TO WASTE!!" Rahm Emmanuel

In scope and importance our national crisis is a Roman collapse.

Anonymous said...

---God forbid a single one eschew college and, I don't know, make 50K+/year as a contractor, plumber, mechanic, etc. without a 100K+ in student loan debt.---

Seriously, more than 3x that...No loans either. I make lawyers look reasonable.

-Sal in NJ

Anonymous said...

A rough sort into three ability groups should be good enough. When I went to High School in the fifties, about 1/3 of the kids dropped out as soon as it was legally possible at age 16. The remaining kids were about equally divided between those on the college prep track and those on the High School diploma track. It seemed to work. I learned a lot in High School and was not as bored as in Junior High and Grade School. The system doesn't have to be totally inflexible; a few misplaced kids aren't going to hurt anything. I would recommend starting it about the fifth grade though. By that time, the bright kids are so far ahead that school becomes a misery for them.

Anonymous said...

"But we can't do that anymore because of racial gaps, which remain the single most dominant force in determining school policy."


Which remain the single most dominant force in determining anything in a multi-racial society in which blacks are part of the mix.

rob said...

“I don’t like being classified because it makes you feel like you’re not smart,” she said. ...

Part of wisdom is knowing one's limitations. Dumb kids with high self-esteem need to find out fairly early that they aren't say, smart enough to be a drug rap, make use of an expensive few years of college sans degree...

The Wobbly Guy said...

nsam - Talking about my country Singapore? To be honest, Malaysia and the other ASEAN nations do it too. We're more pragmatic that way.

And it works. Perhaps too well. An academic and intellectual elite is formed which is perceived as looking down on the other parts of society, even if they ARE the most productive and capable.

I find myself dreading the day when egalitarianism finally outweighs pragmatism and starts on a path similar to what the US is going through, except based on socio-economic factors rather than race.

Anonymous said...

"In Stamford, black and Hispanic student performance on state tests has lagged significantly behind that of Asians and whites. In 2008, 98 percent of Asian students and 92 percent of white students in grades three to eight passed math, and 93 percent and 88 percent reading, respectively. Among black students, 63 percent passed math, and 56 percent reading; among Hispanic students, 74 percent passed math and 60 percent reading."

Replace Stamford with ANY OTHER PLACE IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE and you'll find the same relationship.

I find the best argument against the Marxist nutjobs, without invoking HBD is this:

The test isn't biased against your culture, your culture is biased against the test.

Anonymous said...

As an aside, the British Labour Party (before the onset of mass immigration it was the champion of 'class' not 'race'), effectively destroyed secondary education in Britain for generations by abolishing selective ('grammar') schools and replacing them with mixed-ability (no 'streaming or setting' was permitted in this egilatarian milieu)comprehensive schools.
This was done blatantly for social-engineering purposes (it was thought by forcing children of differing social classes to study together class differences would be 'abolished' - the inspiration was American de-segregation).
The irony is that all the policy (never reversed by the Conservatives), has done is destroy the life-chances of intelligent children from humble homes whilst protecting the children of the rich - who generally attend selective private schools.The products of private schools massively outperform state-school children in Britain in terms of exam success, and entry to the universities, particulary prestigious institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge.
The final irony is that in England 'Public School' means a private school.

Anonymous said...

Here in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, there's a program called METCO that brings minority youths from the cities to the suburban schools to foster diversity and give said kids a shot at a better education. All the oh-so-twee, "progressive" 'burbs are involved.

One town decided to expand its participation in the program, and what do you know, three years later the school committee had try to explain to the parents why the test scores fell in comparison to the surrounding districts.

As you can imagine, every excuse in the world EXCEPT the expansion of the METCO program was cited!

Brutus

Anonymous said...

During the busing crisis, Thurgood Marshall was confronted by someone (a media type, I assume) who asked him if he wasn't being just a tad insincere to the struggle because he put his own children in private schools. His response was something to the effect that he didn't apologize for looking out for the best interests of his children, an A+ for a perfectly honest answer.

I certainly don't doubt that TM was more devoted to the civil rights struggle than most, but he obviously wasn't about to sacrifice his own childrens' futures to be what we'd now call politically correct. TM was fortunate enough to be able to afford private schools for his children. Not everybody is as financially solid and well connected as TM and those who aren't should no more apologize for looking out for the best interests of their children than he did.

The problem is that if you happen to be white middle-class parents who want their children to get a decent education but who, unlike TM, can't afford private school and you see the standards of your children's schools go down, "looking out for the best interests of your children" will get you called racist. You are a racist of you insist on tracking and you are also a racist if you move to a less "vibrant" area.

The solution is to insist that the elites' children attend those "Vibrant" schools that they espouse. That'll never happen though.

Mr. Anon said...

"Nora Helmer said...

What I remember about "collaborative projects" is that the smarter/more responsible kids did all the work while the lower-IQ kids just came along for the ride taking advantage of our hard work while they goofed off. Hated that!"

I agree. Collaborative learning is a fraud - an excuse for the teacher to slack off a little. Parents whose children are being taught collaboratively should demand that the teachers pay be docked and given to the pupils who are doing the work.

Anonymous said...

Dr Starr's solutions is an 25% honors and the rest college prep. But won't this lead to an even more two tier system. The 1's get to pay the price of 'diversity'.

beowulf said...

The problem with tracking is that by stigmatizing kids who score much lower or much higher than their peers, it goes too far; and by separating students into only a handful of groups, it doesn't go far enough in allowing each student go at his own pace.

The solution I think is social promotion of every student at the same time they each learn at their own pace via Computer Aided Instruction. Actually the computer is optional, Programmed Instruction has been around at least since World War II with Armed Forces Institute correspondence classes, computers just make the courses easier to administer and grade (if you google NAVEDTRA, you'll come across pdf copies of Navy correspondence courses.

One of the insights of programmed instruction is, the mentally disabled excepted, any student can master any subject... if given enough time. IQ is a measure of how fast a student is capable of learning. If 9 months is the length of time it takes the average student to learn a grade level's curriculum, then the very quick could master the material in, say 6 months (or faster) and the very slow may take 12 months (or longer) to master the material. Incidentally, military studies have discovered that the average students learned 30% faster by studying at their own pace instead of in a classroom. Heck some students might finish a college degree by the time they graduate from high school, but every student would learn more than they do now.

Anonymous said...

Testing the Fundamental Law of American Sociology.

"The fundamental law of sociology is a summary of hundreds of observations. It asserts that:

"On large-scale tests of reasoning ability, the observed mean difference between non-Hispanic whites and African Americans is 1.1 + 0.2 standard deviation."

The NYT data:

"In Stamford, black and Hispanic student performance on state tests has lagged significantly behind that of Asians and whites. In 2008, 98 percent of Asian students and 92 percent of white students in grades three to eight passed math, and 93 percent and 88 percent reading, respectively. Among black students, 63 percent passed math, and 56 percent reading; among Hispanic students, 74 percent passed math and 60 percent reading."

Assume that on a common scale, white and black ability distributions are both normal and with a common standard deviation.

Then for math, the cut-off for passing is 1.405 SD's below the white mean and 0.33 SD's below the black mean. The difference in means is 1.075 SD's.

For reading, the cut-off for passing is 1.175 SD's below the white mean and 0.15 SD's below the black mean. The difference in means is 1.025 SD's.

Results consistent with the Fundamental Law of American Sociology!

dearieme said...

"A rough sort into three ability groups should be good enough": in my secondary school we had seven "streams", with an additional maths class in my final year which had only the top three pupils in it. I was one of the three and it was fantastic - like some super-selective Oxford tutorial class, just flying along. I suspect that few people know just how good schooling can be if (1) it goes at a pace to suit you, (2) you have been well prepared for it, and (3) the teacher has the ability and self-confidence to help you shine.

nsam said...

wobbly: yes Singapore is what I had in mind.. could you care explaining how streaming (alternate term for tracking) works in Malayasia given the racial affirmative action that goes on there? Or is it that the Malays are in fact genetically chinese (to varying degrees) as well and so the race differences arent that problematic.

ben tillman said...

Hey, I'm about as abominable as they come, but since when were Jews not "white"?

Ashkenazi Jews are of primarily Middle-Eastern ancestry, with some European admixture. They are genetically distinguishable from Europeans, and -- after 2000 years of endogamy -- easily satisfy Steve's definition of a race.

http://genomebiology.com/2009/10/1/R7

"These analyses make clear that individuals with full Jewish ancestry are a genetically distinct group from those having no (self-reported) Jewish ancestry.... These data therefore suggest that the Jewish group is distinguished from non-Jewish Europeans more because of their genetic heritage in the Near East than due to population bottlenecks perturbing the genetic composition of Jewish groups."

If you want to call Jews white, I guess you can, but it's useful only in certain limited contexts such as basketball or football in which the similar athletic attributes are contrasted against the vastly different West African physical abilities.

Grumpy Old Man said...

My main worry about tracking is that people (especially adolescents) change.

Tracking is fine to offer opportunities to smart kids and avoid boring them to death. Just let people who got turned off or had temporary problems get back into more advanced tracks. Don't make one's life depend on a single test at age 13.

It happens all the time. Continued opportunity is one of the stengths of our system.

Anonymous said...

America is much more of a "mertitocracy" now than it was before the 1960's. It does a better job of finding and elevating the "cognitive elite".

Can anybody honestly claim that they think the country is better off as a result? Our current ruling class is making me reconsider my opposition to a hereditary aristocracy.

Marc B said...

I agree with placing kids of lesser aptitude or academic interest on a technical career path early, say 11th grade so we stop torturing them in classes that go beyond the basic skills required for the day-to-day math/grammar to be a thriving citizen. There has been a strictly enforced egalitarianism in US education that has been a disservice to both those with a vocational inclination and students of average or above academic aptitude. The exceptional students are usually placed in AP classes while the rest of the student body gets an education that allows the LCD kids to pass with a C or D.

There is no reason for the denigration of necessary vocational professions by assigning them as the province of rejects by school administrators, doing everything possible to protect kids from such a horrible fate or using vocational classes as warehousing for incorrigibles rather than legitimate and important career paths. Hence, the quality of the vocational classes is lacking because schools use them for dumping grounds, not a place to gain real-life career experience.


I want to make it clear, that working in a trade is does not equal low cognition, as anybody that has rebuilt a diesel transmission can confirm. There are highly intelligent students that have a kinethstetic inclination and lack the temperament required for strenuous academics. You'll often find these types in wasting away in jobs like waiting tables because they were too bright to be placed on vo-tech path but "can't work in an office".

Before we start segregating students, we need to make sure that both the students on an academic path and those going into vocational training are getting a QUALITY education instead of the watered down norm currently available.

josh said...

So sorry to hear that Nicole Sussman is put out by this! I suggest she get together with Paula Rothenberg,author of "White Privilege" to discuss the shameful state of our nation.Maybe they could meet up with Mike Kimmel and Abby Ferber to discuss their new book,"Privilege:A Reader",and discuss "The Cost Of Privilege" by Smith and Goff,and maybe the new one "Race Course:Against White Supremacy" by the beloved Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. The work of the great Noel Ignatiev can be dissected,too. Maybe the '0' level can be reserved to the jewish students,while the whites are 'intemagrated' with the People of Color. I think dear old Mrs Sussman would find that quite acceptable.

Dave R. said...

Cloonan teachers say they had not changed the curriculum or slowed the pace for the mixed-ability classrooms, but tried to do more collaborative projects and discussions in hopes that students would learn from one another.

If they have tried more collaborative projects and discussions, then they have changed the curriculum and slowed the pace. They're either lying through their teeth, or they've deceived even themselves about that.

The most salient critiques of group projects have already been well made. This does remind me, tangentially, of another point.

Public schooling points to its intelligent, literate graduates as evidence of its success, and implies it only needs more money or new programs to extend its reach down the IQ ladder. But what evidence do we have that the successful graduates of public schools would not have managed to learn under any regime, or none? The unschooling movement usually gets good results, and colonial white America had higher functional adult literacy than we do today. Many children can learn to read with relatively little instruction, and a motivated student can learn history and science from self-directed library reading. Math is the only subject highly dependent on an an organized order of learning, and we don't even do that well any more. Depending on what the numbers are of students who will learn no matter what system they're put in, public schooling could have exactly zero impact on adult literacy, and we wouldn't necessarily know.

Geoffrey Falk said...

Collaborative learning is a fraud - an excuse for the teacher to slack off a little. Parents whose children are being taught collaboratively should demand that the teachers pay be docked and given to the pupils who are doing the work.

There are ways of doing collaborative learning properly, e.g., in a Jigsaw Classroom approach. But I'd be pleasantly surprised if the average teacher is even aware of that way of doing things.

Benn Gunn said...

What about asking the kids? What class do you want to try? Their input is important too- branching kids off to vocational school, what a nightmare if they are late bloomers, by then it is too late when they wake up.

sabril said...

"What about asking the kids? What class do you want to try?"

Actually in my high school, kids had a lot of latitude in choosing which track they wanted to go on.

I think it's a decent policy, but I doubt it will satisfy the race grifters and the diversity industry. Because what will happen is few NAMS will choose the challenging classes and those that do choose such classes will tend to do poorly. This will be blamed on racism or whatever.

Ultimately, the goals of (1) raising each child to his or her highest potential; and (2) racial equality are fundamentally at odds with eachother.

Anonymous said...

@Beowulf
"any student can master any subject... if given enough time. IQ is a measure of how fast a student is capable of learning."

Do you really believe that? You don't think sometimes people just don't get it and never will, regardless of the amount of time?

PR

gordon-bennett said...

I went to a Grammar School in the UK. These were schools reserved for the top 20% of performers at the 11 plus, an IQ test taken at age 11.

We were then streamed into Upper, Middle and Lower classes, about 30 per class.

We were deeply tested in written exams (NB NOT multiple choice style tests) every six months and the results were aggregated into a class hierarchy.

The class desk allocations were then reallocated according to aggregated results, with the most successful sitting at the back.

Thus we were heavily tested at all times; knew all the time our position in the class hierarchy; and our teachers knew exactly how well we were doing.

It worked for me.

Rex Little said...

tracking numbers assigned to students dictate not only their classes but also their friends and cafeteria cliques. Every summer, at least a dozen parents lobby Mr. Rudolph to move their children to the top track. “The zero group is all about status,” he said.

This doesn't pass the smell test. In what universe do the smartest kids have high status, rather than being despised as nerds and dweebs?

Teacher said...

Geoffrey,

I used Jigsaw and it is a perfectly good tool. However, content is still content. After the kids go through a learning exercise like Jigsaw, what do they retain? I used it in gifted classes and regular and ESL. It is a fun strategy but it does not change how much kids of different abilities learn. It is not magic.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, Stamford needs to spend a fortune on a customized test that will produce less bizarre outcomes.



you kill me

sabril said...

"This doesn't pass the smell test. In what universe do the smartest kids have high status, rather than being despised as nerds and dweebs?"

Probably it's more a reference to status among the parents.

Anyway, I don't see why it's so terrible to put kids in the track they choose.

Truth said...

"If they put them all in one group and teach rigorously, the dumb kids (non-white, non-Jew, non Asian) fail. They get P-O-ed."

Once again, it's a matter of degree isn't it?

If a Jew or Asian is writing this post, he might write:

"If they put them all in one group and teach rigorously, the dumb kids (non-Jew, non Asian) fail. They get P-O-ed."

And he'd be right, wouldn't he?

"Now that we are all middle aged that decision has born mediocre fruit. I have done much better than my brothers in business and they never achieved anything like they were capable of."

On the contrary, they probably achieved exactly what they were capable of; namely, they scored high on a test.

"the 5's were entirely black with a healthy dose of white trash."

Entirely black with a healthy dose of white trash huh?

Now Mr. Ryan, with syntax on that level, are you sure you were in the gifted class?

"
1000 - 100 + 10 + 10 + 5 + 1 + 1

927, nearabouts as I can tell."

Congrats Luc; until now, I had reason to doubt that you were a certified genius, this just proves that you weren't just boasting all along!

"Hey, I'm about as abominable as they come, but since when were Jews not "white"?"

Since they started boffing blondes from Nebraska.

beowulf said...

Do you really believe that? You don't think sometimes people just don't get it and never will, regardless of the amount of time?

High school curriculum, yes I do (with my stated caveat, "mentally disabled excepted"). As for college engineering or math classes, I take your point, for some (most?) people it'd be like trying to teach a dog to read.

Anonymous said...

IQ doesn't exist, except when it does:

Monkeys have IQ

OneSTDV said...

The only person who has any good ideas is this woman:

"suggest that the district could make the system fairer and more flexible by testing students more frequently for movement among the levels."

The issue of flexibility should be an important feature in the tracking system. This way it ensures the system is fair and students who outperform their classmates are put in the proper track. If black kids can't outperform the lowest track, well then too bad.

Of course, I imagine the adminstators and teachers understand the tracks at the beginning of the year will be very close to the tracks at the end of the year (racially divided) and thus aren't willing to listen to this proposal.

Truth said...

"The problem is that if you happen to be white middle-class parents who want their children to get a decent education but who, unlike TM, can't afford private school and you see the standards of your children's schools go down, "looking out for the best interests of your children" will get you called racist."

No, I don't think anyone gets called "racist" for moving to the suburbs. If they did there would be a lot of "racists" in America.

The Wobbly Guy said...

nsam - Not very clear on the specifics, but everything I've heard says there are two school systems, one for the Malay majority plus some minorities, and a sorta semi-private chinese system that uses essentially the same format.

Both systems employ tracking/streaming within themselves, so we get cream of the crop of Malays and Chinese in each system. However, when it comes to university applications, Chinese elites lose out due to affirmative action... but everybody knows the chinese are generally more competent, exam smart, hardworking, or whatever.

Those chinese who do get in are the very best. The rest have no choice but to opt for foreign universities, like those in Singapore.

The Malays generally aren't too bad academically (except when compared to the chinese), and there's some grumbling about the bumiputra policy and its indolent effect on the youths.

I have some suspicion it's less a matter of genetics than one of culture - for some reason, malay girls do better than malay boys, and my parents think the traditional Malay preference for boys and subsequent spoiling of them is a significant factor.

Even in Singapore, this difference in performance can quite remarkable. IIRC, the highest scorer last year for the PSLE (grade 6) was a Malay girl.

headache said...

I'd say the poster Teacher has this thing nailed, and largely confirms Steve's observations from a practical point of view. Good to know that there are still sane and competent individuals in education, which has been flooded by pseudo-intellectuals, ideologues and other buffoons of the chattering class.

Anomalous Female said...

"On the contrary, they probably achieved exactly what they were capable of; namely, they scored high on a test."

Truth, are you merely being disingenuous or do you really believe test scores have nothing to say about people in aggregate? If that is the case, I direct you to an elementary Statistics course and The Bell Curve.

That individuals sometimes do not achieve successes as impressive as their test scores does not invalidate the fact that test scores have a lot to say about groups.

From The Bell Curve (pp. 19-20):

Suppose that the question at issue regards individuals: "Given two 11 year olds, one with an IQ of 110 and one with an IQ of 90, what can you tell us about the differences between those two children?" The answer must be phrased very tentatively. On many important topics, the answer must be, "We can tell you nothing with any confidence." (...)

Suppose instead that the question at issue is: "Given two sixth-grade classes, one for which the average IQ is 110 and the other for which it is 90, what can you tell us about the difference between those two classes and their average prospects for the future?" Now there is a great deal to be said, and it can be said with considerable confidence -- not about any one person in either class but about average outcomes that are important to the school, educational policy in general, and society write large."

Gene Berman said...

RKU:

You understand--exactly.

Silver said...

This doesn't pass the smell test. In what universe do the smartest kids have high status, rather than being despised as nerds and dweebs?

Believe it or not, in my fifth and sixth grade (1980s, ~95% Anglo), the coolest clique consisted of the smartest kids. The very smartest kid was extremely popular and liked by everybody. There was a small bunch of rowdier kids and they were looked down on by everyone (well, except me -- my rebellious nature saw in them kindred spirits). On one occasion, after a nasty incident, the whole school (it felt) chased after the biggest trouble maker and he ran and locked himself in the toilets.

That same group (of smarties) went on to the same high school and I can distinctly recall reflecting vindictively on the bitter change of fortune they experienced.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if the AP,Honors route is the same thing as tracking. It's different in that the kids voluntarily sign up for that stuff, no? So if any group is underrepresented, well, no one is keeping you out of the class.

Are there any cases of AP classes being abolished for racial gap reasons? Any schools get rid of honors altogether?

Anonymous said...

"No, I don't think anyone gets called "racist" for moving to the suburbs."

Quite correct, Truth, but that is not what I said. There are suburbs and then there are suburbs.

My point is that white parents who move to get their children out of deteriorating schools caused by a major influx of students unable to do grade-level work are called racists. Suburban Great Falls, VA in Fairfax county has some great public schoools. The people who live there are not call racists, they are called rich. They totally missed the wholesale destruction of whole sections of some NoVA neighborhoods because the houses there go for 7 or 8 digits - not the sort to be snapped up for boarding houses.

The problem is that most parents who might want to escape Prince William County or Manassas VA schools can't afford to live there. These places, too, are suburbs.

beowulf said...

To offer some backfill, I was restating above John B. Carroll’s model of school learning:

Aptitude for a given subject is really just a reflection of a student’s learning rate, which is explained by mathematical equation wherein: Degree of Learning = ∫(time spent/time needed).

A person’s aptitude for learning (their learning rate) is a function of the amount of time spent learning compared to the amount of time needed to learn a given objective... the equation suggests that all learners can achieve mastery (a degree of learning), provided their time spent will come close to, or equal, their time needed.
http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/wiki/Mastery_learning

Anonymous said...

How about a tracking system in which the students and their parents choose the track, not the teachers or administrators. I think this would work especially well in big high schools with a menu of academic and vocational courses.

Anonymous said...

Silver - where was this happening?

Australia, USA, Greece Serbia, somewhere in Asia, didnt you also claim to be living in the UK at one point?

One finds hard to keep track of your resume.

Head Scratch McGee said...

In what universe do the smartest kids have high status, rather than being despised as nerds and dweebs?

The Hindu universe. The Chinese one. The Korean one. The yeshiva one.

It used to be that way in Europe. Then something happened.

Truth said...

"The problem is that most parents who might want to escape Prince William County or Manassas VA schools can't afford to live there. These places, too, are suburbs."

Well, remember my friend, IQ is destiny and destiny is IQ; therefore, why would these people in these 7 figure houses want their kids to be around the progeny of a bunch of average white people who only had the intellect to get $40,000 jobs?

Truth said...

"Truth, are you merely being disingenuous or do you really believe test scores have nothing to say about people in aggregate? "

No. I don't think it's disingenuous, I simply feel that the two boys in question found their M├ętier early: Taking tests. That is what they are good at and quite unfairly because they were unable to parler that into anything larger they were considered underachievers.

We have a large group of people in this country who are lauded for their intelligence, when what they really are is good test takers. When these people leave college, they often go immediately into a career teaching others how to take tests; namely, University Professor.

Although if what is read here is to be believed, this is a worthless position, because you cannot teach someone to improve his test-taking ability through tutoring.

Chief Seattle said...

Ahh, METCO. I haven't heard that in years. We had a METCO table in the lunchroom at the leafy suburb I grew up in. At least one of them was caught per year dealing drugs - making the most of their opportunity I suppose. Last I heard of it was after I graduated, and there was a huge controversy over a videotape that surfaced of two METCO guys doing unspeakable things to a white girl.

Massachusetts liberals - their puritan guilt and self hate is unmatched anywhere in the world.