Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Study Finds Segregated Schools Hinder Reading Skills

CHAPEL HILL – Children in families with low incomes, who attend schools where the minority population exceeds 75 percent of the student enrollment, under-perform in reading, even after accounting for the quality of the literacy instruction, literary experiences at home, gender, race and other variables, according to a new study.

The majority of black and Hispanic children in the United States attend such “minority segregated” schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The study, by the FPG Child Development Institute (FPG) and the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, examined reading development from kindergarten to third grade for 1,913 economically disadvantaged children. The children were part of the Children from Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Kindergarten Cohort, a nationally representative sample of more than 22,000 children enrolled in approximately 1,000 kindergarten programs.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have no interest in closely studying this report, but its thesis seems straightforward enough; scrolling down I notice a June 13th post citing work containing more or less the same conclusions. So I am assuming here that those claims are essentially true.

They seem to boil down to a notion of diffusion-- that poor, minority students suffer from a sort of negative synergy when they are mostly surrounded by similar students. The argument in favor of race-based school assignments is thus that whites, being more susceptible to literacy (for whatever socio-economic reasons), are needed to diffuse their tendencies into minority classmates.

There is a flip-side, however, to that paradigm. If learning is so synergistic, then isn't equity being achieved as part of a zero-sum game? Why wouldn't an average white student stand to benefit from being in a class with above-average white students, as opposed to below-average minority students? If that's in fact the case-- which the logic of the UNC study appears to suggest-- putting the average white student in a weaker academic environment is blatantly discriminatory.