American Renaissance

“Achievement Gap”

Stephen Sharansky, Oh That Liberal Media, Jun. 19

Today’s Seattle Times repeats its usual mischaracterization of the dispersion in academic performance, and promises a lot more misinformation in the future:

This year, the Seattle Times is looking at efforts to address the achievement gap between white students and students of color.
. . .
in school districts across the nation, minority students score lower than whites.

Yes, it’s true that [some] minority students score lower than [some] whites, but that’s hardly the comprehensive story.

As I mentioned earlier, the Seattle School District classifies students into 19 different ethnic categories for measuring academic performance [here, large PDF]. On most measures of academic achievement, the highest scoring ethnic groups are not “White”, but East Asian, specifically Chinese, Japanese, Korean and in some cases Vietnamese and East Indian. Minorities of color!

There are many examples of this, among them:

Mean High School GPA

Rank

Score

Group

1

3.40

Chinese

2

3.36

Japanese

3

3.29

Korean

4

3.18

Vietnamese

5

3.04

White

Percent Passing 7th Grade WASL Reading Test

Rank

Score

Group

1

82.1%

Korean

2

75.0%

Japanese

3

73.9%

East Indian

4

66.4%

White

Percent Passing 7th Grade WASL Math Test

Rank

Score

Group

1

75.0%

Korean

2

65.4%

Japanese

3

65.2%

East Indian

4

62.1%

Chinese

5

50.1%

White

Along the same lines, in yesterday’s Times story about lowering high school graduation standards we read that:

More than a third of the district’s high school students do not graduate. Half of the African-American and Latino students, who make up a disproportionate share of low-income students, do not complete high school.

These facts are also true, but again hardly the comprehensive story. The subtext is that African-Americans and Latinos are disadvantaged minorities whose underachievement is explained by poverty (and not by, say, poor study habits and insufficient support for educational achievement within the family). On the other hand, Vietnamese and Chinese students have even lower drop-out rates than Whites, even though a much larger percentage of them are low-income (not to mention English-learning immigrants).

Group

Percent Low-income

Drop-out Rate

Vietnamese

68.4%

6.1%

African American

65.8%

14.8%

Latino

60.6%

15.1%

Chinese

42.8%

2.8%

White

13.1%

7.8%

This is certainly interesting, but it doesn’t help the Seattle Times peddle its fairytale about the “achievement gap between white students and students of color” and the implication that underachievement is caused by poverty and white racism. So don’t expect the exceptional academic achievements of Asian students to get much play in the Seattle Times.