Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Performance Gap on Tests Uneven for Black Students et al

Performance Gap on Tests Uneven for Black Students - Washington Post

Elementary and Middle MSA Results Are Up - Washington Post

County Students Stay Ahead on State Tests - Washington Post

Summer Math, Missing in Action - Washington Post

Three in Four Va. Students Graduate, Study Says - AP

It is amazing how difficult it is for educators to read their own research reports when it comes to understanding why Black kids underperform.

There has been almost ten years of minimal progress since California educators concluded,

“It appears likely that we are now training teachers who not only have little understanding of critical thinking or how to teach for it, but also wrongly and confidently think they do. The end result is that California classrooms are places in which both teachers and students lack explicit knowledge of how to reason in a disciplined way about serious subjects and questions.”

The cause goes even deeper when we consider that Black kids are missing out on the early critical reasoning instruction that their caregivers never received, and on and on back through time. There are many reasons for this, but none of them fix the problem.

Very succinctly, Black kids get the smallest dose of critical thinking instruction of any ethnic group. Whether it is background instruction in the home, and other social settings, or at school in the hands of curriculum wielding professionals, the recipe for success for Black kids is being shorted the most key of ingredients.

Math is abstract and very dependent on the disciplined mind, a type of mind that can only be trained. Reading suffers as well. Socrates established, 2500 years ago, that thinking is prone to errors, due to cognitive distraction and varying mental discipline. He further concluded that one cannot depend on those in authority to act from sound insights. The education community has certainly proven this true.

Early-age critical thinking instruction is the key. Parents and teachers must know it, practice it, and teach it to our children – there is no other way.

James C. Collier


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