Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Reporting Test Scores by Race Is Questioned

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Reporting Test Scores by Race Is Questioned

Article excerpt

Should the test scores and drop-out rates of African-American students be separated from those of their white classmates?

That's what state education officials require when Missouri school districts provide their first report cards on themselves by Oct. 1. Some school districts in both urban and rural areas don't like the idea.

Some superintendents from the St. Louis area say they plan to attend the meeting of the state Board of Education Aug. 15 to voice their concerns.

One concern is that raw test scores may be presented without any context. The data may increase white flight from racially mixed school districts or cause bitterness by black parents, said Larry Humphries, superintendent of the Hazelwood School District.

"I don't see anything but bad coming out of it," Humphries said. "Anybody can look at numbers and put what they want into those numbers."

The so-called annual report cards will be required for the first time this fall as a result of the school-funding law passed in 1993.

The law requires districts to gather and distribute a variety of information, such as dropout rates, pupil attendance, staffing ratios, teacher and administrator salaries and per-pupil costs. The information must also be provided for each school in a district.

The 1993 law doesn't say that districts must separate minority scores. That rule was added in July 1995, when the State Board of Education issued a list detailing what schools should report. The board said that test scores and high school dropout rates shall be reported "for any racial/ethnic group with more than 30 students in a school and which exceeds 5 percent of that school's enrollment."

The board member who originally proposed the racial-breakdown rule is Jacqueline D. Wellington of St. Louis. Wellington is the only African-American on the board.

Wellington said Friday she wanted to see separate results because an achievement gap exists nationally and locally between African-American students and white students. …

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