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2004 February 26 Thursday
Hispanic And Black High School Graduation Rates Very Low

The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University and the Urban Institute have released a report entitled Losing Our Future: How Minority Youth Are Being Left Behind by the Graduation Rate Crisis.

Washington, DC--February 25, 2004-- Half or more of Black, Hispanic and Native American youth in the United States are getting left behind before high school graduation in a “hidden crisis” that is obscured by U.S. Department of Education regulations issued under the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) Act that “allow schools, districts, and states to all but eliminate graduation rate accountability for minority subgroups,” according to a new report from two nonpartisan groups, The Civil Rights Project at Harvard and The Urban Institute.

The new report, also issued by the Civil Society Institute’s Results for America (RFA) project and Advocates for Children of New York, notes that the minority high school graduation rate crisis is masked by the widespread circulation of “misleading and inaccurate reporting of dropout and graduation rates.” According to the report, while 75 percent of white students graduated from high school in 2001, only 50 percent of all Black students, 51 percent of Native American students, and 53 percent of all Hispanic students got a high school diploma in the same year. The study found that the problem was even worse for Black, Native American, and Hispanic young men at 43 percent, 47 percent, and 48 percent, respectively.

The graduation rates tell only half of this story. The other half is just how much did the students learn? When comparing only high school graduates those black and Hispanic students that do graduate score far lower on standardized tests of knowledge on average than white students that also graduate. So the picture is even grimmer than it first appears.

Asian ethnics do slightly better than whites.

By comparison, graduation rates for Whites and Asians are 75 and 77 percent nationally.

The use of the category "Asians" is unfortunate as it is a huge continent populated by a diverse assortment of peoples. Surely there are differences in graduation rates between, say, East Asians, Southeast Asians, and South Asians. But rarely is any effort made to compare them.

The success of Asians as a whole is still a very important point which is entirely ignored by the bulk of the press reports on this story. Why are they more successful? Given that Asians are more successful in school doesn't it make sense to adjust immigration policy to reduce Hispanic immigration in favor of Asian and white immigration?

Christopher Edley of Harvard blames Jim Crow for this problem.

"We will never dissolve the hegemony of Jim Crow segregation . . . unless we get serious about this problem," said Christopher Edley, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, which joined the Urban Institute to write "Losing Our Future: How Minority Youth Are Being Left Behind by the Graduation Rate Crisis."

How can that be the explanation? The vast bulk of Hispanics came to this country after Jim Crow laws were repealed and settled in parts of the country that had no Jim Crow laws. Plus, the vast bulk of Hispanics are not even black. The "legacy of racism" explanation for why some ethnic groups do poorly in school is getting very old and tired.

In fact, liberal New York has the worst statewide black and Hispanic high school graduation rates.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York has the worst statewide graduation rates for black and Hispanic high school students in the nation, according to a report released Wednesday.

Edley does get one thing right: these results are frightening.

"It's frightening," said Christopher Edley, the co-director of the Harvard Civil Rights Project, who will become dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley, in July. "With graduation rates this low, one has to worry about the long-term growth and wealth of the nation."

The growth in the Hispanic population is going to translate into a growing population of high school drop-outs.

By the year 2030, the U.S. Bureau of the Census projections suggest that Latino students age 5 to 18 will number almost 16 million — 25 percent of the total school population.

That percentage will rise even higher in later decades.

Asians are a much higher percentage of science engineering workers than of the population as a whole.

Asians, although a small percentage of the population, are not considered underrepresented in science and engineering. Asians were 4 percent of the U.S. population in 1999 and 11 percent of the people employed in S&E occupations in that same year.

Asians are going to be too small a percentage of the total population for their higher performance in science and engineering to compensate for the lower academic achievement of Hispanics and blacks. The rate at which the size of this problem grows could be slowed if immigration policy was changed to only allow highly skilled immigrants to settle in the United States.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 February 26 01:51 PM  Immigration Border Control

vinod said at February 26, 2004 3:59 PM:

Given that Asians are more successful in school doesn't it make sense to adjust immigration policy to reduce Hispanic immigration in favor of Asian and white immigration?

Why do you say that? Don't you know that immigration isn't for the benefit of the current residents but rather a way for us to pay our penance towards the downtrodden of the world whom we no doubt contributed towards the oppression in the first place

[sarcasm off]

TangoMan said at February 26, 2004 5:11 PM:

Related to your post is this post on The Volokh Conspiracy:

Only 58% of African American matriculants to law school complete law school and pass the bar exam, compared to 86% of white matriculants. TRANSCRIPT OF THE BOSTON BAR ASSOCIATION DIVERSITY COMMITTEE CONFERENCE: RECRUITING, HIRING AND RETAINING LAWYERS OF COLOR, Boston Bar Journal, May/June 2000 (available on Westlaw). Of the 42% who never become lawyers, about half don't make it through law school, while the other half never pass the bar exam.

At the top third of law schools, 91% of African Americans graduate, and 84% of them pass the bar. These statistics suggest that once one gets to the bottom half of American law schools, well less than half of African American matriculants ever become attorneys. This is all, of course, a result of admissions policies pursued in the name of "racial justice."

Proborders said at February 26, 2004 11:54 PM:

Randall, I think that many people prefer Mexican immigrants over South or East Asian immigrants even though adult Asian immigrants tend to have more formal education than adult Mexican immigrants. Some Democrats probably favor Mexican immigrants over Asian immigrants because they think that Mexican immigrants and their descendants are more likely to eventually vote for Democrat politicians than Asian immigrants and their descendants. Some people would rather have Christian immigrants (Mexicans) than immigrants who are practitioners of an Eastern religion. Some would prefer to see and hear the Spanish language over an Asian language. Some prefer part-white (mestizo) immigrants over South and East Asian immigrants. Some members of America's elite probably prefer Mexican immigrants over Asian immigrants because Asian Americans are seen by them (some of America's elite) as being more competitive in terms of admissions to prestigious colleges and universities than Mexican Americans.

John Moore (Useful Fools) said at February 28, 2004 8:58 PM:

The logic behind some of the immigrationists is humanitarian. But it is obvious that we cannot absorb all the needy people of the world. Hence the humanitarians are either lying or innumerate.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page, an otherwise very sensible outfit, seems to believe that there cannot possibly be anything wrong with unrestricted immigration.

In the case of Mexican immigrants, it tends to be their children who fail. The immigrants are usually hard working and moral people (other than breaking our immigration law). Their children, brought up in the US, too often fall into a ghetto mentality. I don't know how much of this is due to silly policies such as "bilingual education" (i.e. don't learn English) and the various destructive attitudes resulting from multiculturalism.

mike quinlan said at March 4, 2004 8:48 AM:

A few points. Is the real problem immigration or the assimilation of immigrants ?
Why is it that so many individuals drop out of school.? While it is statistically a social phenomena, the reality is that it is the product of individual decisions or circumstances.
Why are such youth so fundamentally alienated and failing to see themselves as potentially part of the ''american dream''.
What is it about poverty ghettos that churn out succeeding generations of the american underclass ? On a very practical level, how can we expect the household to be the locus of successful socialisation for youth and value transmission, when in many cases, particularly in immigrant families or poor single parent situations work schedules are incompatible with parenting demands. Here I am thinking of a class of people such as night janitorial workers, who at least in Canada, are often recent immigrants. Imagine the home life of a single parent working 5 to midnight or later. How do you supervise the kids, let alone maintain a significant presence in their lives ? Is such a parent truly to blame for their ''wild child''.
There seems to be a get tough on immigration mentality here that is more than a tad distorted. Both the U.S. and Canada need immigrants to sustain employment levels in our economies. Immigration contributes towards our economic growth. The vast majority of immigrants do successfully assimilate to our culture, and this is particularly true one generation along. The above comment about children of ''Mexican immigrants'' failing is a crock, because the fact of the matter is they have assimilated a different value structure than that of their parents. One that is representative of a certain aspects of American culture whether we like it or not.

Randall Parker said at March 4, 2004 10:23 AM:

Mike, Since we do not know how to make these children do better in school the reason for why they do poorly is besides the point. If we let them in they will, on average, do very poorly. Why subject ourselves to the result?

How do you measure successful assimilation? See my previous post Samuel P. Huntington Comes Out Against Immigration From Mexico and see the table at the bottom showing educational attainment of Mexican immigrants and their descendants through the 4th generation. That is not my definition of success.

Mike Quinlan said at March 4, 2004 11:18 AM:

Dear Randall,
I will gladly read your post on Huntington's theory in short order, but as to your musing that we have no idea how to enable these kids to do better in school so why bother... well I can't help but be flabbergasted by such a defeatist attitude. It's not as if there have not been cases where student performances have seen substantial improvements in some schools in underfavoured districts. A lot of things could be done. But if there is no political will to improve things or assist people, we will reap problems created by uncaring neglect. There is too much of a sink or swim mentality in the US. When you have drowning people do not be suprised when they reflexively grab and affect others on the way down if you aren't willing to try and get in there and help.

Randall Parker said at March 4, 2004 11:40 AM:

Mike, You are misconstruing what I said. For the ones who are here we have to bother. But why let in more people who are going to do poorly if we do not know how to make them do well?

There is no lack of political will to try to improve school performance in the United States. Per pupil spending in poorly-performing school districts has risen very dramatically in many states in recent years. In fact, the long term trend line for the last few decades has been toward smaller classes and more money spent per student nationwide. There are places (e.g. in Connecticut) where the more affluent school districts now get less money than the poorer districts. This has brought little improvement. Blacks and Hispanics still do far worse than whites, South Asians, East Asians, and Jews. The performance range of the various groups ranging from the Jews to the blacks is enormous.

Lots of other policy changes have been made including charter schools, standardized testing, forced racial integration, aid incentives for higher performance, lengthened school years, and countless other changes.

Defeatist? I'm a realistic and look at the empirical evidence. I do not see any reason to let in groups that do poorly. Other groups that are also not white come in and do better. Why shouldn't immigration policy recognize this and why shouldn't selection criteria for immigrants be designed to select for people who will do extremely well?

mike quinlan said at March 4, 2004 3:00 PM:

Randall, having now read your article on Huntington's ideas, I am much more inclined to agree with Jorge Lopez's insights. The statistics cited, I for one would like to see the study upon which they are based. As for the comment ''if we let them in'', I say they are coming and getting in whether people like it or not. Without a doubt this creates challenges and certain conflicts in society. All change does, and guess what, its not necesarily bad. We have to face problems, not wish them away or fail to see our involvement. I mean what are you proposing ? That because many mexican immigrant children have difficulties at school we should deny them access to education ? These are big questions that we are getting into, and all I know is that whatever policy is implemented
will wind up creating unforseen consequences. Its fascinating how often well intentioned action to correct a problem winds up furthering or mutating the original concern. I think that such thought as Huntington's in aiming to protect it's sense of American identity
and specificity denies something that is fundemental in the very essence of America and that to follow this path of thinking will lead to an actual impoverishment of the American sense of self and lessen its culture and the potential that could spring from it in the future. ''Bring us your tired, your hungry, and your weak'' and we'll transform them. You give up that sense of hope and bravery towards the future at your own peril. In denying it
you deny a real part of yourself, and that just simply is not healthy for the American psyche. For me, the can do attitude, no problem is too big thinking is what epitimizes the USA, and your telling me you cannot educate a bunch of kids no matter the challenge ?

Thanks for asking me what I think successfull assimilation is. I need to ponder it. I'm pretty sure I have seen human examples of it. Theoretically my instinct is that it is a process of connection that transforms both immigrants, us, and the cultural spaces we share.
all the best

Randall Parker said at March 4, 2004 6:25 PM:

Mike, click thru to the Huntington page 9 link that has the citations for the sources for that data on educational attainment. Those statistics seem all the more believeable in light of the recent report by the Urban Institute and the Harvard Civil Rights Project on high school graduation rates which this very post links to. I do not go in for intuitive judgements that just feel good. The empirical evidence does not support the rosy view that all immigration is a net benefit.

If we let them in: I do not buy the defeatist attitude. We can stop illegal immigration. No, it is not inevitable. No, they are not coming whether we like it or not. Yes, we can enforce immigration laws if only the governmnet would sincerely try to do so. We can cut the influx of illegals at least in half by building a very affordable barrier on the border with Mexico. There are a number of other policy changes that would cut the influx still further. I've made many posts on how US immigration policy could be fixed. See my entire Immigration and Border Control archive for many other immigration policy ideas.

As for the "tired and hungry" immigration myth: I don't buy it. Not all immigrants contribute to making America great. Some do. Some make little in the way of contributions. Others are outright drains and some are even dangerous criminals. Still others are terrorist meances. The devil is in the details. I look at the details. Broad mythological beliefs do nothing for me. No, I do not see any unhealthy mental consequences from not believing myths. I gave up on Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and assorted other myths without any lasting harm.

Successful assimilation: At the very minimum the immigrants should not be net financial liabilities. They should not become an ever growing Recipient Class who receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes. They also should believe the same values and act on the values which are needed to make and maintain a free society.

Peter said at March 8, 2004 1:41 PM:

We do know how to improve the performance of children in school, be they immigrants or indigenous: have them be the product of two educated parents who are in a long-term committed relationship and who care about their children and their children's futures and demonstrate such by providing a stable, loving, disciplined environment for said children to grow and learn.

Of the groups being discussed, Asians resemble this the most, then whites, then hispanics, then blacks.

And people can decry my explanation as being riddled with logical fallacies about arguments from evidence or whatever else they care to, but that will be merely the whining of delusional people who don't want to face the truth or sinister people who know the truth but wish to ignore it for personal gain.

Derreck said at April 11, 2005 7:30 AM:

Randall, having read some of your essays now, I see you are an educated man who clearly is able to created informed opinions, as I believe you would agree. Unfortunately, your choice of information seems to only be the "facts" or moreover the "statistics" which seem to support your points. You do not "look at [all of]the details" as you insinuate. A perfect example of this is your statement about one of the founding principles of our nation, "As for the "tired and hungry" immigration myth: I don't buy it. Not all immigrants contribute to making America great. Some do. Some make little in the way of contributions. Others are outright drains and some are even dangerous criminals. Still others are terrorist meances." All of what you say is absolutely correct. There is no possible way to deny it, but yet the point is lost due to the fact that every person in America, save some of the few natives descendants remaining, have immigrant ancestry. You also do not show any statistics on social/economic status of the immigrants. Should we just limit immigration to upper class immigrants because they generally are "more productive members" of our society? Come on, you are smarter than this. I am not saying that you are not entitled to your own opinion, or that I don't tend to agree with some small aspects of your analysis, but your stance is seemingly so rigid and in many ways so ridiculous, it demeans your intelligence.

Randall Parker said at April 11, 2005 11:13 AM:


Not all immigrant groups do equally well in the United States on average. There are huge differences between the groups.

You say:

You also do not show any statistics on social/economic status of the immigrants.

You obviously haven't read all my essays on immigration. I have made probably a couple hundred posts on immigration and have covered many different aspects of the issue. I would suggest you start with my Immigration Economics category archive and look for information on economic performance. But you can guess very accurately in advance what that data will look like just by comparing the educational attainments of various ethnic groups in America.

Daniel said at June 28, 2005 6:26 PM:

Randall, as important as the immigration issue is, it is not the defining catalyst of failure in US education for minority groups. Citizens who have not immigrated are being lost in the sea of red tape that we call educational reform. Your stance seems to parallel the logic used by the Bush Administration in their "No Child Left Behind" policy, which has lead many school districts down the path of abandonment of low performing students in order to keep a good track record for the state. Good education is the main goal is it not? And I would argue that the quality of education should be measured by net increase of learning each individual student acquires throughout their career as a student. This is not so outlandish; a simple database that would track individual students’ performance and learning characteristics could help a lot in identifying some problems and even solving others. This education "problem" can and should be seen as a perfect "opportunity" for the US to improve its school systems and not a reason to throw in the towel.

Randall Parker said at June 28, 2005 6:42 PM:


The reason Hispanic immigrants do relatively poorly as students is that they are less intelligent on average. The "catalyst" for their failure is evolution by natural selection which did not select strongly enough for higher intelligence.

NCLB is not leading school districts to abandon low performing students. In fact, it is causing school districts to shift teaching resources toward the lower performing students and way from the brighter students. NCLB does not reward school districts for making adequately performing students into outstanding performing students.

NCLB is not the only force working against educational programs aimed at the smarter students. Egalitarian leftists routinely attack mentally gifted minors programs. Davis California is currently going thru this sort of fight with the complaint being made that a disproportionate fraction of the kids in advanced classes (GATE classes - they used to be called MGM classes 25 years ago) are white and Asian. Well, duh. That is what one expect from IQ scores. But the leftists deny the results of psychometric research and claim all inter-group differences are due to racism. The leftists don't have reason on their side but that has never stopped them before.

And I would argue that the quality of education should be measured by net increase of learning each individual student acquires throughout their career as a student.

I would use a more nuanced approach: Measure the IQ of each student and then grade schools on how well they advance the education adjusted for the potential of each student. A school that has all 130+ IQ students is going to look great in our current system even though its students are the real cause of the school's failure. A school with students all below 85 IQ is going look terrible if it is measured by the absolute level of acheivement of its students even if it is doing an excellent job with poor intellectual raw material it has to work with.

We are throwing in the towel if we let ourselves continue to be deluged with low IQ immigrants. No school reform program or increase in funding or change in teaching methods can even begin to compensate for the dumbing down of America.

Randall Parker said at June 28, 2005 6:55 PM:

Peter says:

We do know how to improve the performance of children in school, be they immigrants or indigenous: have them be the product of two educated parents who are in a long-term committed relationship and who care about their children and their children's futures and demonstrate such by providing a stable, loving, disciplined environment for said children to grow and learn.

How do you suggest to produce this outcome? Outlaw reproduction by poorly educated parents? Outlaw reproduction by single women? Outlaw divorce?

However, even outlawing divorce and outlawing single parenthood would not make dumb children smart. Loving a child will not miraculously make an 80 IQ kid into a 120 IQ kid.

Daniel said at June 28, 2005 7:17 PM:

"The reason Hispanic immigrants do relatively poorly as students is that they are less intelligent on average. The "catalyst" for their failure is evolution by natural selection which did not select strongly enough for higher intelligence."
I would advise you to tread carefully Randall, as you are entering waters of bigotry. There has never been a conclusive scientific experiment that has linked intelligence with race; in addition, the famed IQ test has itself faced numerous scientific critiques for its social biases. Standardized tests are part of the reason our educational system hasn't made the steps needed to improve itself because they (the tests) are made by those who are in an already race driven society. I think you may be seeing racism as something that is intentional and not something that is subconscious and interwoven into the whole tradition of this country. But please, do not think I am a romantic; obviously immigrants will perform lower then citizens whose families have been here for multiple generations because immigrants are entering a new culture, new language and new system. And I would agree with your nuanced approach to education to an extent, however I do not see the work of improvement the lower performers as such a threat to those who already perform well, primarily because these students are ALREADY DOING WELL. Your critiques of the NCLB should be noted, but I don't see how they disprove my point.

scottynx said at July 3, 2005 9:17 AM:

Daniel Says:

"And I would agree with your nuanced approach to education to an extent, however I do not see the work of improvement the lower performers as such a threat to those who already perform well, primarily because these students are ALREADY DOING WELL."

Resources are finite. Teaching resources are finite as well. All the spanish speaking kids who don't speak english take teaching resources away from making kids who are merely ALREADY DOING WELL into SUPER ACHIEVERS / Geniuses. You know, turning them into the people who invent stuff, and save your life at the hospital. Our kids deserve this. YOU deserve this (bright over-achievers help everyone). American tax money should be used for this, and not for turning low-achieving non-english speakers from another country into merely average students (which is a job at least equal in magnitude to turning already average students into bright over-achievers).

Svigor said at July 4, 2005 4:36 AM:

I would advise you to tread carefully Randall, as you are entering waters of bigotry.

Translation: you're dangerously close to heresy Randall.

I await the day when this kind of dogmatic liberalist obscurantism is seen for what it is, and becomes a target of universal opprobrium. What poor manners, using vapid moral threats in place of logic.

There has never been a conclusive scientific experiment that has linked intelligence with race;

Strawman. I.Q. is highly (.6-.8) heritable. Race IS heredity, writ large. Whip out Occam's Razor and use it.

in addition, the famed IQ test has itself faced numerous scientific critiques for its social biases.
Intelligence tests are not culturally biased against American blacks or other native-born, English-speaking peoples in the U.S. Rather, IQ scores predict equally accurately for all such Americans, regardless of race and social class. Individuals who do not understand English well can be given either a nonverbal test or one in their native language.

Standardized tests are part of the reason our educational system hasn't made the steps needed to improve itself because they (the tests) are made by those who are in an already race driven society.

Can you explain this in a form that looks more like science and less like revealed wisdom?

I think you may be seeing racism as something that is intentional and not something that is subconscious and interwoven into the whole tradition of this country.

Which begs the question, why do we have an immigration problem, if we're so oppressive?

But please, do not think I am a romantic;

Too late.

obviously immigrants will perform lower then citizens whose families have been here for multiple generations because immigrants are entering a new culture, new language and new system.

Have you even read the thread? How do you explain the wide, consistent group variation in immigrant success? Why do mestizos, whose language and culture are far closer to "American culture" (I submit there no longer is such a thing), perform so poorly compared to many Asian groups, whose language and culture are far further from historical American norms?

Randall Parker said at July 4, 2005 10:22 AM:


Lucky for us the Inquisition can't put us up on racks for the heresy against left-liberal secular religious dogma.

Daniel's claims are entirely unempirical and unscientific. Yes, as you point out, IQ is highly predictive. Normally social scientists salivate at a factor that has such a high correlation in advance to various developments. For example, childhood IQ has a much higher correlation to educational attainment and adult income than parental SES. Studies of children who are siblings and studies of adoptees (especially trans-racial adoptees) demonstrate this again and again. So much for the idea that class determines success.

If anyone reads this far and wants to read empirical and unideological treatments of psychometric research into intelligence, IQ, and "g" then a good place to start is Linda Gottfredson's research papers. For example, see her paper Why g matters: The complexity of everyday life (PDF file).

For a glaring demonstration of how little parental SES matters over a wide SES range read about a study of Korean babies adopted by American parents (and click on the graph to see the full graph) and a follow-up post by the same writer. The adoptees into higher income families were no more successful than the adoptees into low and medium income families.

Randall Parker said at July 4, 2005 10:39 AM:


You point out what I see is the biggest wasted opportunity in today's ideologically egalitarian educational system: The failure to educate the super brights at much faster speeds. They end up spending more time in school because many of them go for advanced degrees. But as bright as they are they ought to be in a fast lane where they get college degrees when most people are graduating from high school (or dropping out).

Really sharp minds, while they are still young, can accomplish the most. Putting 130+ IQ kids in college starting at age 18 is a waste. They should already be inventing and doing research and innovating at that age. Instead they are sitting in freshman English and freshman economics and math courses. What a waste. What a terrible waste. Some of their peak mental years are wasted by an educational system run by a bunch of leftist ideologues who are determined to deny the individual and group differences in ability that are staring them in their faces.

Even 120 IQ kids ought to be on an educational fast lane. But special classes for brighter kids run up against the fact that black and Hispanic kids do worse than white and Asian kids on average. See Kimberly Swygert's post Robbing The Smart To Pay The Dull for an example of how this is playing out in Davis California. This sort of pattern has been repeated in many school districts across the nation. Classes for brights get cut back because of false unempirical ideological leftist claims of racism. The leftist ideologues are damaging the educations of millions of children and damaging the nation as a whole. They ought to be ashamed of themselves and stop pretending they stand on the moral high ground.

Kwisatz Haderach said at November 20, 2006 3:26 PM:

Black Enrollment in AP Surges in Montgomery
Half Take Some Type of Honors Course

By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 20, 2006; Page B01

Montgomery County public schools this year passed a milestone in college preparation: Half of the 9,737 black high school students are enrolled in honors or Advanced Placement courses.

Five years ago, barely one-third of African Americans participated in such classes, despite the county’s reputation as a national leader in college prep. Now, a black student in Montgomery is more likely to take an AP test than a white student elsewhere in the nation.

Josephine Kalema, 17, is one of those students. She is Wheaton High School’s senior class president, captain of the pom squad and a newly minted assistant manager at Dunkin’ Donuts. With some of her Wheaton High classmates, Josephine has helped the school system move toward parity for its black students.

Kalema took all the honors courses available to her in the ninth grade, then progressed into AP. As a senior, she is taking AP geography, calculus and English literature. She partly credits her counselor, Scott Woo, with her advancement.

“It’s always been Mr. Woo saying, ‘I think you can take this class,’ ” she said.

The county’s achievement is striking because the national surge in Advanced Placement testing has largely left black students behind.

AP testing doubled nationwide in five years — from 1.1 million exams taken in 2001 to 2.3 million this past spring. But black students remain underrepresented in AP classes.

Last spring, only 4 percent of black students in Virginia high schools and 5 percent in Maryland sat for Advanced Placement exams, about one-third the rate for all students. In the majority-black D.C. system, about 5 percent of black high school students took AP tests.

AP tests, and the courses that precede them, are designed to replicate the college experience. Students who earn scores of three or higher on the five-point scale of AP typically can qualify for college credit. Participation in either AP or its counterpart, International Baccalaureate, is now more or less expected by admissions officers at some competitive colleges, who want applicants who take the most rigorous courses high schools offer.

The College Board, which administers the AP program, reported last winter that although AP participation had increased everywhere, just two states with small black populations, Hawaii and South Dakota, had eliminated the participation gap between blacks and whites.

Hispanic students, by contrast, had closed the gap with non-Hispanic whites in 11 states, including Maryland, and in the District.

The AP gap persists between blacks and whites in Montgomery schools, despite a countywide effort to identify and recruit students of all races with potential for college-level study. But a new report on AP and honors study suggests blacks are starting to close the gap. And that is trickier than it sounds, because students across the board are moving up.

In 2001, whites were twice as likely as blacks to be enrolled in AP or honors study, with 70 percent of whites and 35 percent of blacks taking at least one such course. Five years later, the gap has shrunk in both absolute and relative terms, with 82 percent of whites and 51 percent of blacks enrolled.

In previous decades, AP was mostly the province of a small coterie identified by their teachers as capable of college-level work. The program’s elitism “was a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Christopher Berry, an assistant principal at Blake High School in Silver Spring. Students couldn’t enroll in AP or honors-level courses without demonstrating they were capable of the work. “And it was difficult for kids who were not in honors courses to demonstrate that they could do it.”

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The success of urban schoolteacher Jaime Escalante with a group of minority AP students in East Los Angeles in the 1980s convinced public educators that motivation and hard work might be just as important as standardized test scores in predicting AP success. Over the past few years, that philosophy has become pervasive in the Washington region.

Principals and teachers in Montgomery high schools began looking for reasons to include students in AP courses, rather than reasons to keep them out. The process evolved into a science: All students now take the PSAT, or Preliminary SAT, a strong predictor of AP potential, in the ninth grade. Principals get spreadsheets that allow them to sort students by PSAT score and grade-point average to identify those capable of AP study not enrolled in an AP course.

Nine percent of black students in Montgomery high schools, and 23 percent of all students, took at least one AP exam in spring 2005; final 2006 figures are not available.

Fairfax County, Virginia’s largest school system and an AP powerhouse, has had similar success: 10 percent of blacks attending the county’s high schools, and one-quarter of all students, took AP tests this spring.

AP participation will never approach 100 percent because AP study is concentrated in the upper grades and excludes some — though not all — students taking IB courses. Some Fairfax schools offer IB instead of AP.

Kalema was being groomed for AP while still in middle school. She took Algebra I, a high school course, in the eighth grade; the school system has dramatically expanded advanced math study in elementary and middle schools as a pipeline to future AP and IB study.

Of the 350 black students at Wheaton High, 210, or 60 percent, took at least one honors or AP course last year, double the participation rate of five years ago, according to the new school system report. Those classes, like the school itself, are about one-quarter black.

Montgomery teachers have learned that drawing minority students to AP involves more than simply inviting them to enroll. Students want to study with their friends, in classrooms as diverse as the school itself.

“If you don’t know anyone who’s taking an honors or an AP class, there’s no reason why you’d do it yourself,” said Kellie Clark, 17, a senior at Blake High, a school where more than half the 650 black students take honors or AP courses.

Clark, like Kalema, has a full schedule: student government, various clubs and a part-time job at American Eagle Outfitters. She took three AP courses as a junior but scaled back to one as a senior to ease the homework load and reclaim her social life.

“I wanted to make sure that I enjoyed high school while I was still here,” she said.

Even after recruiting large numbers of black students into advanced courses, Montgomery remains far from true racial equity. Many black students dabble in AP. Few go on to take a full load of courses and tests.

Of the Montgomery students who take AP tests, 79 percent earn passing scores of 3 or higher — a remarkably high rate, considering that participation has effectively doubled in five years. The passing rate for black students is 57 percent, lowest among all racial groups. Of the 345 Montgomery students who took five or more AP exams in spring 2005, just eight were black.

Recruiting black males into AP study, however, has proved difficult. Nearly twice as many black females as males took AP tests in 2005, an extreme example of the gender gap that pervades the program.

Black males at Wheaton High offer a variety of theories to explain it: Girls are more industrious, or more willing to take academic risks, or more confident that they will pass the test.

Issa Braithwaite, a Wheaton senior, has kept up with two AP courses this year. He said it’s all about the effort.

“You’re as successful as you want to be,” he said. “Almost any kid can do the work, if you put in the time that you have to put into it.”

TheUrbanRevolution said at May 12, 2008 11:27 PM:

The assumed superiority and obvious sense of privilege emanating from some of these posts is one of the biggest reasons and indicative of the subtle but pervasive racism that systematically destroys the sense of self and self confidence in students of color. Some Asian students bring with them their native culture which puts a strong emphasis on education. Some SE Asians, don't and consequently don't do so well. African Americans don't have a "native culture" it was stripped during slavery and will never be regained. Therefore their sense of self has, so far, been defined by the privileged majority. Latinos have been "colonized" and have the same issues as African Americans.

When you have so called diverse schools where kids of color are called "it" by the teacher- there's a problem. When there is a documented national trend that takes high scoring kids of color and tracks them into the "slow groups and classes" - there's a problem. Then when these same kids do poorly in high school or drop out - America asks what's wrong with these black kids, or what's wrong with these brown kids? America is what's wrong with them. And don't give me any of that "go home" nonsense. African American's built this country with free labor and have been here for more generations than most white people. They have a right not only to a good education but they also have a right to help set the agenda.

As long as the privileged majority continues to act as though extreme racism does not exist in our institutions they will continue to see this disparity. However TheUrbanRevolution is working to eliminate that disparity.

charles darwin said at October 12, 2008 11:34 AM:

want the truth
let's find the truth.

google: IQ of races

google: SAT scores of races

google: IQ and Race

google: CIA factbook.

google: Noble Prizes

google: Foreign Reserves, CIA factbook.

Asians in japan, korea, china, usa, canada: IQ of 106

Europeans in usa, europe, australia: IQ of 100

u.s. Hipanics, blacks, native indians: IQ of 85

africans in africa: IQ of 70

Jews, of courses, are centered at 110-113, highest in world.


These are True-numbers.

These are the Real IQ of the world's races

rationality said at March 12, 2009 12:20 AM:

Hey "charles darwin",

Fuck you.


whatsername said at April 10, 2009 10:34 PM:

I am an Asian high-school student who works hard in school and gets good grades. I have to say that I abhor the idea that ALL Hispanics and Blacks are inherently less intelligent than whites and Asians. It makes me wonder whether we've evolved at all from the 1930s.

It has nothing to do with 'natural IQ' and everything to do with working hard, and having the motivation to work hard. If you don't bother, no matter what race you belong to, YOU WILL FAIL. Period. (Unless you have a rich daddy who's willing to buy your way through your entire life, but that's not the case for the majority of us. I wish I did have a rich daddy, as it would solve a lot of my problems, but that's beside the point.)

Hard work is key. I have a feeling that these underachieving hispanic and black students feel that there's no point in working hard, that it'll never get them past where they are now, so they don't try. Or they're afraid to try, for some reason or other. And that's really tragic.

Cesar Chavez said at June 20, 2010 2:47 PM:

google: drug war in mexico

google: Nobel prizes in sciences

google: cia factbook.

google: IQ map of the world

google: IQ & Wealth of Nations.

internet-age: we all know the truth.

IQ: intelligence 106 100 85 70 60


Work ethics

Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Michael Dell Steve Ballmer Andy Grove: Jews.

You think Albert Einstein or Michael is a Mexican.

Do you think half of jews cannot pass high school or the GED. true / false

jose gonzalez. said at June 21, 2010 9:38 PM:

Nature/ if anyone want to blame. Blame Nature: the how Nature made the races by IQ Numbers
106 / 100 / 85 / 70.
It's not tragic. good bad ugly. it's the truth.
Nature gave jews high IQ and mexicans and blacks an IQ of 85. IQ of 85.
Nature. Nature is and Nature does what she wants. Blame Nature

Lao Tzu said at October 6, 2010 1:25 PM:

I guess that the xenophobes and racists on this list failed to read Steve Gould's Measurement of Man. Nature did not give Jews high IQs -- it is a canard that Steve would have laughed at...may he rest in peace. Perhaps we should take some basic concept like the zero and use it to see who first understood that concept. Not very surprisingly it was thought of/proposed by two groups denounced above -- namely Arabs and the Mexicans. The reason of course is that Europeans are incapable of abstract and abstruse thinking - hence they deserve a real zero in the IQ category. After all, they burnt and destroyed all of the knowledge of the classical world and it took the Arabs via Spain to reintroduce knowledge to Europeans.

I must of course mention, as per Gould, that when the IQ test was first administered to Italians, Poles, Jews, etc. those "races" were all placed in the imbecile category. BTW -- a number of interesting experiments have been done at Stanford -- for example, when "whites" were told they were being tested vis-a-vis Asians they scored on intelligence tests below normal. Blacks taking those same tests scored normally. Plus, the wide swath of comments about the IQ of whites certainly seemed to elide those beacons of brightness in swaths of the US -- namely W. Virginia and other pockets of intellectual depth in the south. When my wife and I were living in N. Carolina -- she had more than one "white" library patron ask her why women had one fewer rib than men; ah yes, such depths of intellectual acumen.

BTW, Nobel Prize winners in a variety of categories are from many so-called races -- I guess we should eliminate Alvarez from the list because he's Hispanic.

BTW, the racism and xenophobia on this list is amazing and typical of the smarmy idiocy of bigots. I'm reminded of the intellectual depth of those my wife encountered on the reference desk in that very Southern public library.

Randall Parker said at October 6, 2010 5:42 PM:

Lao Tzu,

You, like Gould, are misrepresenting the results reported by psychometric researchers. If your reference to Italians, Poles, etc is to something Gould said then be aware that Gould misrepresented that work:

Gould's most inflammatory allegation is to blame IQ testers for increasing the toll of the Holocaust. His thesis is that early IQ testers claimed Jews as a group scored low on their tests. This finding was then allegedly used to support passage of the restrictive Immigration Act of 1924, under which Jewish refugees were denied entry in the 1930s. Gould even claims that Henry H. Goddard in 1917 and Carl C. Brigham in 1923 labeled four-fifths of Jewish immigrants as "feeble-minded . . . morons."

In both cases, this has repeatedly been shown to be untrue. For example, Goddard was testing to see if the standard Binet test identified what were then called "high-grade defectives" as well among immigrants as it did among native-born Americans. (It did.) He explicitly did not assert that 80 per cent of Russians, Jews, or any immigrant group in general were feeble-minded.

NotProgressive said at October 14, 2010 10:17 PM:

The founding fathers knew that freedom would have unequal outcomes. Gifts are not equally distributed in the population. Freedom requires that there is freedom of opportunity, not freedom of outcome. But, with a population that becomes more unequal every year due to illegal immigration, our American experiment in freedom is dimmed. An obvious disparity in outcome will be and is siezed upon by social planners and statists. Their mantra, "redistribute the income until the outcome is equality." Importing millions of low IQ illegals is damaging on so many levels, one would think it a purposeful plan for the destruction of American society. (1965 immigration act per chance?)

So why are the illegals low IQ? This immigrant wave is unlike any other in America's history. Peasants thrown off their farm, are forced into a Mexican economy that cannot support them or their family. Peasants are not the top of the food chain in any society, and America is now receiving the dullest and lowest from Mexico by the millions. The Elite of Mexico are staying put to enjoy their exalted status.

Lynn and Vanhana discuss wealth and IQ in their book, "IQ and the wealth of nations." Mexico should be wealthy since they have an abundance of resources. Unfortunately, Mexico has been manipulated by inside and outside forces, and has become a failed state. Perhaps a high IQ population would have been able to resist the pressures, but sadly they were outsmarted. In the mid 1970's Mexico was relabled as an "emerging economy." This allowed Western Banks to give Mexico dollar loans. Mexican leaders became hooked on dollar loans, which then exposed them to bear raids by banking elites. The first Peso crises had Goldman Sachs employees toasting each other on their bust out of Mexico. After driving down the Peso, the dollars came back to the country and bought up assets on the cheap. In the mid 90's Clinton signed key provisions into NAFTA which furthered the consolidation of power over Mexico. Namely, the banks in Mexico can now be privately owned by foreign nationals. Nafta also exposed Mexicans to American subsidized mechanized farming. The Peasants who were thrown off their ancestral farming lands were supposed to go work in the Maquiladoras. However, Clinton signed MFN status for China around the same time. This short circuited NAFTA, and now we have a Mexinvasion. Whenever you buy a Chinese made good, think about why Manuel is inside our borders. Mexicans should be working making those goods now made in China.

Where did the bankers get their money to give out dollar loans to Mexico? Kissinger made a deal with the Saudis. You price oil in dollars and we'll allow you to have a Cartel. Also, you get American military protection and first line military gear. Kissinger made the deal because the U.S. went off the gold standard, and the dollar needed to be backed up by something. That something is oil. The deal also included the Saudi's putting their petrodollars into American Banks. Those petrodollars became loans to Mexico.

So, Americans, if you want to have a free country populated with high IQ people, then raise your eyes up and cast them on our private banking elites. We now have a statist oligarchy of private banks/Government and corporations. Statists only care about power, and an easily manipulated low IQ subpopulation ensures rent-seeking and power status in perpetuity. Freedom requires a future orientation that is a hallmark of high IQ. Economics and a political policy enabling massive immigration of third world peasants is a recipe for changing America to a Feudal State of warring tribes.

no i don't said at October 15, 2010 5:50 PM:

Continue getting distracted with all this racist IQ bullshit, ha, ha, ha...

So many idiots priding themselves in IQ tests and insulting blacks, hispanics and orientals; meanwhile the Chinese continue to grow above 9%, Europeans keep working hard to get out of this world-economic mess, Iranians continue to give the finger, Chileans proving their ethics and care for their citizens, Russians sailing into the Caribean and Central America, Venezuelans becomming nuclear as we speak.

Why does the U.S. continue bullying instead of trading, fighting instead of diplomacy, shouting instead of listening? Does the U.S. even have a foreign policy department any longer??

So much for that giant IQ narcissistic pride...

no i don't said at October 15, 2010 5:54 PM:

Venezuela becoming nuclear as we speak...

Come on Randall, please let's bring back the real Issues in this forum, (with capital I), not stupid childish IQ cackle.

Sabrina Clemens said at July 31, 2013 5:49 AM:


I was looking for information and happened to read an informative post on your site Looking at your page, I did notice that one of the links was broken. The link labeled "The growth in the Hispanic population is going to translate into a growing population of high school drop-outs." is not working currently.

Also, as an additional resource to your page, maybe you could add the site It has great info and I am sure this page would be helpful to your future visitors.

Sabrina Clemens

Advertise here. Contact randall dot parker at ymail dot com
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