What The Standardized Testing Mania Has Wrought.
With schools under increasing pressure to improve test scores, Mount Diablo High School has resorted to a new way to motivate students: by race.
The Concord campus on Friday held separate assemblies for students of different ethnicities to talk about last year's test results and the upcoming slew of state exams this spring.
Jazz music and pictures of Martin Luther King greeted African-American students, whereas Filipino, Asian and Pacific Islander students saw flags of their foreign homelands on the walls. Latinos and white students each attended their own events, too, complete with statistics showing results for all ethnicities and grade level.
"They started off by saying jokingly, 'What up, white people,'" said freshman Megan Wiley, 14. Teachers flashed last year's test scores and told the white crowd of students to do better for the sake of their people.
"They got into, 'You should be proud of your race,'" Wiley said. "It was just weird."
Several parents later told the Times that the meetings smacked of segregation resurrected.
"Why did they have to divide the students by race?" said Filipino parent Claddy Dennis, mother of freshman Schenlly Dennis. "In this country, everybody is supposed to be treated equally. It sounds like racism to me."
Principal Bev Hansen said she held the student assemblies by ethnicity this year and last year to avoid one group harassing another based on their test scores. The 1,600-student campus, one of the most ethnically diverse high schools in the Mt. Diablo school district, is roughly half Latino, 30 percent white and 15 percent black, with Asian nationalities rounding out the mix.
Now why would the school do such a boneheaded thing like that? Oh. . .
Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools, school districts and states must report and are accountable for scores in reading and math for specific races, English learners, special-education students and economically disadvantaged students. All statistically significant groups must show continuous test score improvement.
"It shows that there's so much pressure to raise test scores that teachers and administrators are trying to do anything they can," [President of the National Center on Education Policy Jack] Jennings said. "Sometimes what they choose is not very wise."
All I have to say about this is, go whites!