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Lawrence school report says black students more likely to get out-of-school suspension, highlights gaps between white, minority students

Lawrence USD 497 school board

The Lawrence school board was presented with data Monday that the district continues to contend with significant academic and behavioral disparities along racial lines.

Among the findings:

• Black students make up 6.4 percent of the student population but were given 15.8 percent of out-of-school suspensions and accounted for 12.2 percent of the district’s unexcused absences.

• On reading assessments given this spring, about 84 percent of white students scored average or better, while only 62 percent of black students scored average or better. Similar discrepancies existed between white and Hispanic students and white and Native American students.

The report, though, didn't provide a clear picture of past performances, leading school board members to wonder whether the district was making progress in closing such gaps. Board members asked for data from prior years, and staff members said they would deliver to the board at a future date.

“I think it is important the board and the community has this information so we understand where we are at,” board president Shannon Kimball said after the meeting. “Our district is not afraid of taking a hard look at the data. I don’t see it as the end of this conversation.”

The report, which was in the form of a “data carousel” was created by Kevin Harrell, district director of student support and special education; Leah Wisdom, assistant director of equity and student support; and Terry McEwen, district director of assessment, research and accountability.

The report included academic measurements gleaned from the district’s three assessment tools: AIMSweb, given to all kindergartners through fifth-graders; the Measurement of Academic Progress, given to kindergartners through eighth-graders; and the state assessments given to third- through eighth-graders and sophomores. It also included the district’s annual equity audit and a report on behavioral screening given to all students.

Teachers understood and shared with students and parents that the AIMSweb and MAP assessments did not measure a student’s ability to succeed but revealed current achievement levels, McEwen said. Assessments were useful tools in pinpointing student and classroom strengths and weaknesses and, thus, where classroom instruction should be focused, he said.

Data from the MAP and state assessments did indicate disparities in academic achievement along racial lines, McEwen said.

For example, on the spring 2017 MAP reading assessment, 83.9 percent of white students and 85.3 percent of Asian students scored at average or higher; 62.3 percent of black, 72 percent of Hispanic and 62.4 percent of Native Americans scored at average or better. There were similar results in the MAP math assessment, in which 80.3 percent of white and 86.3 percent of Asian students scored at average or above; 52 percent of black and 48.3 percent of Native American students recorded scores of average or better.

In response to a question from board member Jessica Beeson, McEwen acknowledged that the district’s results might reflect racial biases built into the assessments.

“Assessment tests are built by white people for mostly white learners,” he said. “Are there biases? Yes.”

Equity issues were also present in the behavioral measurements Harrell presented. They showed black, Hispanic and Native American students accounted for higher percentages of unexcused absences, tardiness, and in- and out-of-school suspensions than white or Asian students.

McEwen and Harrell said the report only presented data from the 2016-2017 school year and did not track trends — data with which they agreed to return to the board at a later date.

Information in the data carousel was being used in schools to address equity issues, Harrell and McEwen said. The board would get reports for principals and school leadership teams about the changes and improvements they are making, he said.

Comments

Craig V. Campbell

This information is pretty much useless by itself with the exception of the fact that Asian students should be the model and to research what they are doing both from a family makeup and attendance/discipline standpoint.

I would also like to know the results of the other racial results would be if you separate out those who have attendance/suspension issues? Or in-depth study of why some of their race performs better.

Also, if there are racial biases in the tests how is that Asian students outperform the race that the tests are biased for?

4 weeks, 1 day ago

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Carol Bowen

Uri Triesman, Berkley, did quite a bit of research on this. As I recall, he tried to create a model based on Asian study groups. The model worked on blacks and hispanics while they were supported, but the group interaction could not be totally replicated. Evidentally, there are cultural differences in learning.

http://merit.illinois.edu/educators_t...

4 weeks ago

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Brock Masters

In a related story, a recent investigation revealed that the NFL and NBA are engaging in radically discriminatory hiring practices based on the racial disparity of players. An anonymous source stated that there was collusion to keep Asians out of the NFL. When asked for proof they retorted, “proof, you want proof? You can’t handle the proof. Name one starting Asian quarterback? I know many Sumo wrestles that would make offensive lineman, but are they recruited? There’s your proof.”

4 weeks, 1 day ago

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Bob Summers

Although the White congenital Liberal will vehemently disagree, for what would they have to pit people against one another, "Race" is inconsequential.

Measuring the level of DRD4 genes polymorphism (Liberal gene) and its proclivity to induce behavior not suitable for the civil society, is all that is needed.

4 weeks ago

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Ken Lassman

So how polymorphic are your DRD4 genes, Bob? Since that is all that one needs to decide one's suitability for civil society, don't you think you need to know?

4 weeks ago

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David Holroyd

Outsource the Admiinistration and save money. Gutless hand wringing administrators.

Get tough and Mr. Campbell is correct. Asian students excel and can spell and speak English.

The chinese will excel in American colleges.

4 weeks ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

They also know that China is a country, and Asia is a continent. All Chinese are Asian, but not all Asians are Chinese. Asians are also Korean, Thai, Japanese, Indian, even some Russians, etc. They also know that Chinese is capitalized. Another example of American ignorance of geography is that many people think that Africa is a country. All South Africans are Africans, but not all Africans are South Africans. They are Kenyan Egyptian, Algerian, etc, etc.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Bob Smith

The only way to get absolute parity will be to institute a quota system. Each time a black student is suspended, a white student will be suspended. Do you really want to go there?

4 weeks ago

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Bob Summers

Should be a two for one. 2 Whites for one Black.

4 weeks ago

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Ken Lassman

I thought you said that the degree of DRD4 polymorphism was all that mattered, even more than race, Bob. Why not make blood samples part of the admission process and anyone who has more than 4 replications need not apply? Your neo-Eugenics philosophy is the new racism, Bob--don't lose you focus with such tired criteria as skin color.

4 weeks ago

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Bob Summers

Congenital Liberals own the government inculcation centers. When in Rome.

So you think it should be 3 to 1?

4 weeks ago

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Ken Lassman

You didn't answer my question, Bob: isn't a blood test your answer to all of the ills of society? You also didn't answer my question about which American values students are being taught to hate that turn into a fertilizer for increasing violence and specifically how the local school district is doing that. But then again, I'm not holding my breath for your answer.

4 weeks ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

And if they are guilty of the same thing? That's the point, Bob. A white kid throws a fit in a classroom, sent tot he office, maybe gets ISS. A Black student does the same thing, he gets OSS. I guess it's preparing them for real life though, right?

Like when a white man kills a Black kid in Florida and it's self defense. But a Black woman shoots a warning shot to an abusive ex, doesn't even kill him, and gets 20 years.

Part of this is money too. OJ could get off, because he had lots of money for lawyers. Brock Turner's parents had a lot of money to keep him out of jail and off the sexual predator list. And then there's the Dupont heir who molested children and only go home arrest or rather his large mansion arrest.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Brock Masters

I would assume there are guidelines that must be followed. Are the guidelines being followed? If so end of story unless there is something in them that state white people get a pass.

4 weeks ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

There may be guidelines, but they aren't always followed, just like in our courts. They have sentencing guidelines, but you see a lot disparity in how they are applied.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Brock Masters

Well then the first step is to follow them and discipline those who don’t. Unacceptable to not follow them.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Clara Westphal

Perhaps if the students being suspended would come to school ready to sit down in class and be ready to learn, they would not be suspended.

4 weeks ago

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Carol Bowen

Some students dread going to school. They consider school a hostile environment. Suspension actually gives a student some relief - almost a reward.

4 weeks ago

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Carol Bowen

Suspension unintentionally gives a student relief.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Clara Westphal

And some students misbehave intentionally so they will be suspended.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Carol Bowen

That is a mainstream but inexperienced perspective. There is also a mainstream assumption that minority families do not value an education. Sometimes, that is true, mostly, it is not true. Families want their children to have a good ecucation even though it’s biased. When students are treated differently, the school has lower academic expectations, and the students do not see opportunities within their reach, affected students are miserable.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Brock Masters

Help me understand what you mean when you say the education is biased and how children are treated differently? I’m sure asked most families will say they want a good education for their children but I see actions that do not support it.

Most importantly, if these things are true then what is the solution?

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Carol Bowen

While the equal rights committees are a good first step, faculty and staff have to identify their own prejudices. Teachers need opportunities to know their students as people. How we would do that? I don’t know, especially, give the school’s unstable budget woes.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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Clara Westphal

Carol, I am a retired teacher of 38 years experience. My perspective in certainly not inexperienced.

3 weeks, 5 days ago

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