Do you think of the achievement gap as an inner-city phenomenon? Think again. The Baltimore Sun reports that an alarming number of middle-class African-American students in suburban schools are having a difficult time passing the state's high school exit exams in algebra, English, biology, and government. Suburban Baltimore County released school-by-school results recently that show nearly a third of that system's high schools had pass rates of 60 percent or less last year. Predominantly African-American schools had pass rates of less than 50 percent. Faced with those worrisome facts, what does Maryland School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick propose? Students who repeatedly fail the tests should be allowed to do a "senior project" instead. "Now you can see the motivation" for such tests, Jack Jennings explained to the Sun: appeasing middle-class parents. The answer to poor student performance is not special projects or other gimmicks that avoid accountability and reward failure, but redoubled efforts to help students achieve success. Somebody should mention this to Maryland's education leadership.
"Blacks in suburbs failing Md. exams," by Gina Davis and Liz Bowie, Baltimore Sun, September 6, 2007
"Area Schools' Success Obscures Lingering Racial SAT Gap," by Daniel de Vise, Washington Post, September 10, 2007