**Updated February 2020
I am educated but not an educator. The measurement standards and methods used with respect to the education needs of our children, regardless of race and socio-economic status, seem to be in a state of confusion and/or ineffectiveness.
Texarkana Area School Districts provide reports where parents and the community at large can evaluate district staff, parents, and student performance.
This article looks at Texarkana Arkansas School District (TASD) Performance Data. However, references to performance information on other Texarkana Area School Districts may be found at the end of this article. These references include a report comparing some school districts. The references also include a report of the Miller County Arrest Data demonstrating disparities exists not only in educational settings but also regarding arrest data. Is there some correlation between the two?
We will first look at a summary report produced by the Texarkana Arkansas School District as found on their website. We will then look at State published data as found on the state website.
District Reported Data:
There is a report taken from the Texarkana Arkansas School District website. The report is entitled 2016 ESEA School District Report with the subtitle Texarkana School District. This report seems to say there is a large gap in performance across races.
For example for English achievement we have 26.18% (blacks) and 54.72% (whites).
And for mathematics achievement we have 20.0% (blacks) and 47.37% (whites).
Similar disparity concerns exist for other races although my focus here is the black-white ratio.
Why is this and what can and should the community do about it are my questions.
The report may be found at TASD 2016 ESEA District Report.
State Reported Data:
The state also publishes more detailed data, some of which is discussed below.
The following analysis of the below listed data table was initially written in 2016. It is therefore based on the 2010-2016 report card data for the Texarkana Arkansas School District (TASD) as found on the state website as listed in the References For State of Arkansas Performance Data Reports section below.
I have updated the below table to include data subsequent to 2016; however, the analysis considers only through 2016. A cursory examination of the subsequent data however indicates that inclusion of the subsequent data analysis would not change the fundamental analysis concerning method and relatively low-performing education results.
I noticed that for school year 2014-2015 there seems to have been a major change in testing in literacy and math.
I also noticed the change in rating terminology. I equate proficient/advanced with met/exceeded and ready/exceeding for purposes of my comparison.
I noticed for example the 3rd Grade Literacy proficient/advanced rate changed from 68.20 (2013-2014) to 29.58 (2014-2015).
Also, the 3rd Grade Math proficiency rate changed from 76.1 (2013-2014) to 29.26 (2014-2015).
Since literacy (ability to read and write) necessities and math necessities have not changed since I graduated in 1974 the most likely reason for the drop is a change in testing.
The problem seems to not be with the children but rather with the adults inability to decide on what is necessary for the children to know and therefore be taught at each grade level as well as measuring methods and terminology. This absolutely unnecessary inability of adults produces much frustration with many students and undoubtedly contributes to the increasing behavioral problems in the school system.
Since the rates indicate only 30% of 3rd graders are literate, does that mean 70% of 3rd graders are retained in 3rd grade. If not, what is the point of the proficiency rating? But then maybe the ratings are more about the ability of the adults to teach rather than the ability of the children to learn. Here I use the phrase ability of the adults to teach not just in reference to the classroom teacher but also to local, state and Federal level staff/administrators, and politicians, etc.
This is not to degrade TASD because I am confident that similar observations can be made about many other if not all school districts in America. Moreover, I am aware that much of the problem has to do with mandates passed down from state and/or federal level.
In analyzing the below numbers, one readily sees a major drop in the percentage of students obtaining proficiency in literacy and math.
A fundamental question is why the percentage of students that met or exceeded proficiency/expectations drastically changed between 2010-2011 school year and 2015-2016 school year as indicated below.
It is not hard to see the cumulative and collective effect such an achievement gap potentially has regarding future quality of life and opportunities whether the statistics are a matter of perception or actuality. The impact of such conditions on the students internal confidence and attitude is potentially problematic as well as then and future external confidence, trust, and attitude toward others and others toward them.
Missing number in a column means no data was provided in the reports.
TASD Report Card Table Extract
Percentage of Students Obtaining Rating of Met/Proficient or Advanced/Exceeded or Ready/Exceeding (2010-2019)
3rd Grade Literacy 64.23 67.21 82.28 68.20 29.58 30.05 33.43 34.07 32.12
3rd Grade Math 64.94 67.86 88.92 76.10 29.26 42.62 52.28 56.56 52.23
7th Grade Literacy 64.23 67.21 66.67 62.30 11.90 38.60 42.42 29.37 35.59
7th Grade Math 64.94 67.86 56.04 52.00 6.77 31.23 30.30 29.10 34.16
10th Grade Literacy 29.96 42.02 44.85 35.86 31.62
10th Grade Math 73.71 15.16 14.92 21.91 26.67
Note that for the 2018-2019 the measurement changed from Literacy to English Language Arts. Also, a reading measurement was introduced. The reading measurement for all grades all students for 2018-2019 was 31.06 at the Ready/Exceeding level as reflected in the State of Arkansas TASD data report listed in the Reference section below.
My basic questions are:
- What changed between 2010 and 2016 in the home, church, and workplace that resulted in such drastic differences especially considering the major drop in 2014-2015 school year?
- Was the change really only in the policies and procedures of academic authorities (local, state, Federal) rather than a deficiency of student ability? Is there too much I got a better idea than those who came before me attitude?
- Is the school system change solely based on some notion that the schools were not preparing the students for the real world?
- If so, what changed so drastically in the home, church, and workplace that the schools were no longer preparing the students for the home, church, and workplace?
- I mean what changed in real terms not in theoretical terms?
- As a matter of fact what changed so drastically in K-12 between 1974 when I graduated and 2016 that my literacy and math education were not sufficient for the current real world? I graduated from Texarkana Arkansas Senior High School in 1974. Indeed, my literacy and math education obtained prior to and including 1974 enabled me to earn a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science in 1986 going to night school while in the US Army. My Computer Science emphasis was on computer programming/coding. I mention coding because coding seems to be a major focus in our K-12 schools now; I suppose this is due to the advent and high availability of smart phones.
On April 13, 2018 the Texarkana Gazette published an article about the grades of Arkansas schools as released by the Arkansas Department of Education. This article including a report listing the grades of Arkansas schools within 75 miles of Texarkana may be found on the gazette website here. If the Texarkana Gazette article is not still accessible you may find the 75 mile radius report here. The 75 mile radius report shows that TASD has 8 campuses: 5 received a C and 3 received a D. The article may be available at arkansasonline.com by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the source of the article.
A quote from the April 13th article follows:
The report show how a school’s overall student body and its subgroups did compared with state averages.
The state average ESSA School Index Score for high schools was 67.43, which is a C. The state average for white students was 69.93, a low B. The average for low-income students statewide was 63.49, a C.
For black students, the average was 57.66, a D. For Hispanic students, 62.42, also a D. For English language learners, the average in the state was 59.94, a D. The average score for special-education students in high school was 50.92, which is an F.
The article indicates the “…Findings meant to fuel discussion on improvements”.
To me it is troubling that per the above article throughout the State of Arkansas minority students achieved a D and white students achieved a B on average. Why was this so in 2018? Is it still so?
Another fundamental question is that given the available of online supplementary educational tools such as available at abcmouse.com, are low performing students not utilizing these tools due not knowing about them, lack of funds on the part of parents, or lack of priority/attention on the part of parents? An analysis of the economic status of the student family informs the answer to this question.
There are certainly some structural influence both with respect to that imposed by the white community and that imposed by the black community upon children within and across racial communities. But at this point I am leaning to the position that the problem is mostly testing methods which may carry within the method/questions some structural racial bias with respect to racial achievement disparity.
In the final analysis I wonder whether we should just get back to the good old fashion 3 R’s of my generation: Reading Riting ‘Rithmetic. Shucks the 3 R’s concept even taught language and logic/thinking in that you learn that those words were made up based on how people talked and kept to end up with nice sounding 3 R’s. Do the 3 R’s well and they can learn whatever they need to learn in their lifetime as adults according to their chosen career path as determined by their God-given natural gifts including thinking gift. Could the answer be just that simple?
The documented achievement gap needs to be resolved whether it be real or artificially created as it affects the children’s opportunities as they enter adulthood due to the way society will perceive and receive them.
References For State of Arkansas Performance Data Reports:
Click the following links for report card data as published by the Arkansas Department of Education: 2010-2013 data, 2011-2014 data, 2012-2015 data, 2013-2016 data, 2016-2017 data, 2017-2018 data, 2018-2019 data. Note that for the report preceding the 2016-2017 report, the report also contains data for the indicated previous years.
See Texarkana USA Income and Poverty Data analysis for related data.
AHS 2020 National Ranking For Grades 9-12 As Reported By US News and World Report High School National Rankings 2020 – TASD AHS Listed Under Arkansas High School as #5,174 Nationally; 70th in Arkansas, #4 in Texarkana, TX Metro Area; 27% and 30% Math and Reading Proficiency, respectively; 85% Graduation Rate, 62% Took At least One AP Exam; 18% Passed At least one AP Exam; Among 24, 000 HS in 50 States Plus DC
National Center for Education Statistics Report on Equality of Education (Focus on Minorities As Required by Civil Rights Acts of 1964; Published 1966)