Nancy Kendrick: Blame poverty, not race, for poor test scores

2013-11-19T06:00:00Z Nancy Kendrick: Blame poverty, not race, for poor test scores madison.com
November 19, 2013 6:00 am

Dear Editor: This is in response to a recent article by Jessie Opoien.

What is the reason and why is it important or valuable to divide test scores by race?

If poverty is the most significant factor in how successful a student is, why not use statistics showing how many students are eligible for free or reduced cost meals as a corollary for poor test scores? The researcher interviewed in the story cites less pre-school education, fewer summer enrichment opportunities or number of books in the home, but I would add to that list everyday situations such as stress over money that leads to quarreling, lack of a quiet place to do homework, an alarm not set to get to school on time, clothes not provided or breakfast not ready. Under these circumstances (if you even arrive at school) how well you do on a math or reading test means little. This has nothing to do with race and everything to do with poverty.

Are there two separate but unequal piles of tests handed over to the educational researchers that confirm and reinforce our worst prejudices that "students of color" can't succeed despite our best efforts? Several references in the article are made to high poverty rates, neediest schools, inequitable income distribution. This is where our focus should be — correcting this inequity, not saying "our black students performed worse than some states that traditionally have the lowest achievement rates."

Nancy Kendrick

Madison

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