By the Numbers: Few Black Students Leave DISD College-Ready

DISD_black_students_presentation1.jpg
Only three out of every 100 black students in Dallas Independent School District graduate ready for college. Among black students entering DISD high schools as freshmen, 28 percent don't graduate at all.

Those are some of the findings in a report DISD District 9 trustee Bernadette Nutall passed on to Unfair Park, called the "State of African-American Students in Dallas Independent School District and the Dallas Community," which she compiled the report in February shortly after she voted to close 11 schools in the city.

"I did it [the report] for my community because it's my community that's upset about the consolidation of schools," Nutall says. "I'm concerned about who's educating and how we're educating our kids. I want to start the conversation of educating all our children."

Nutall hasn't been going around flogging the report, butlast week, DISD District 2 trustee Mike Morath presented her numbers when he was a panelist at the Urban League's forum on the "State of Black Education in Dallas."

Unfair Park spoke to Matt Houston, president of the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals, who attended the forum. He was "floored" by the findings, he says.

The one statistic that stood out to Houston was that three out of 100 black students graduate college ready from high school in four years.

"It was definitely a downer," Houston continued. "It's a sad number to hear, but we need to hear that. It's good information."

The numbers don't improve much across Dallas County, either. Countywide, only 4 percent of African-American students graduated from high school in 2010 after four years with college ready SAT or ACT scores. This matches a 4 percent rate for Latino students. Thirty-two percent of white students graduate from Dallas County high schools in four years with college ready scores, as well as 39 percent students who identify as "other" races or ethnicity (Asian, Native American, etc.).

The obvious question, of course, is why Dallas is failing for all its students, but especially its black and brown ones.

"I don't know," Nutall admits. "It's been that way for years. We've been trying to close the achievement gap. Those are the conversations we want to have."

So how do we make it better?

"We need to make sure we have great people teaching our children," Nutall says. Then, "We look at the data, then we have a conversation around the data. You need money to teach students. Over the last two years, the state cut us $100 million."

Nutall is also aggregating data for the DISD Latino population.

"I'm a data person," Nutall says. "I'm looking at the data. The achievement gap is widening."

Morath says the study shocked and depressed him, but also imbued him with a sense of urgency.

In an email, he wrote, "What we're doing now MUST change."

Black Students in DISD

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40 comments
Craig Welle
Craig Welle

Greg, I just ran across this. I was just in New York last week at a College Board meeting with other members of the College Board Academic Advisory Committee. The presentation by Morath does not make any sense to me because he does not specify the SAT score he deems "college ready." Is it the score for Stanford, UT, or Paul Quinn? Let's say it is UT. Well, UT generally does not accept any students lower than the top 10% of students, so if that is the number Morath is using, then 3% overall is actually 30% of students who qualify for UT - which is not as far afield from the percentage of Affrican American students in DISD as the numbers Morath and Nutall are spewing out might suggest to anyone who does not understand SAT scores and how they are used.

Moreover, it was widely accepted by college and university representatives present at the meeting last week that SAT scores are not used as gatekeepers by most colleges and universities, they are simply one indication of a student's readiness for college. Mr. Morath is well-meaning, but his feet need to be held to the fire on this issue.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

The unfortuante thing is that this is just another report that will be put on the shelf after the election if Nutall is re-elected.  She and Blackburn have known for years that African American students were behind all students in testing and college readiness and have done little if anything to change the situation. 

All of the DEAD WOOD at 3700 Ross needs to be gone, and let's start with Damarcus Offord defeating Nutall on May 12, 2012.

Russp
Russp

What I didn't see in this report was a comparison of student achievement within individual schools. Is it schools in certain areas not doing their jobs or is it the students no matter where they go not doing their jobs?

saraedward45
saraedward45

 

How many of them are recent immigrants?  Iwould look at what age these children are starting school in the U.S.  Language barriers are more difficult to overcomethe older the child is.  There are a lotof bilingual programs but understand those children are playing catch-up forquite some time.  I suspect some of thosefigures can be attributed to that.  Notall, though.  I’m going to guess a lot ofit has to do with poor parental support .

The value placed on education in the home is key.  If the parents are not supportive it doesn’tmatter how much money you throw at it.  It’s just not going to take.  I would also look at how the parents areactively supporting their children’s educational goals at home.  How many of these parents are checking to seeif their kids are doing their homework?   How many are making sure the kids are gettingenough sleep?  Breakfast in themorning?   Clean clothing? Not the latest styles, justCLEAN?  Restricting or prohibiting tv,gaming and computer use during the school week?    Teaching them to respect others and themselvesenough to not disrupt a class or backtalk a teacher?  Do the parents care not to disrespect theteachers themselves?    Readingto these children and having them read to them? Even if they can’t read in English, the act of reading to their childrenmodels behaviors the children will pick up on. I am raising a “Hispanic” child who excels in school. She’s of averageintelligence.  She lives in anenvironment that has been made conducive to learning.  I didn’t wait until she got to school forthat. It starts at HOME. 

Parents are EVERYTHING when it comes to academicachievement.  A teacher can teach untilblue in the face, but if the parent has not made the child “learning ready” itjust isn’t going to happen. 

Metroplexual
Metroplexual

Every child is born with a brain and the potential to learn.Not every child develops at the same rate. There is a disparity ofdevelopment even within each grade. This is a big deal in k - 5 where theylearn to read and write, do arithmetic and develop good homework and study habits.

Many kids struggle to learn and achieve in these areas and few cando it well without help from parents and older siblings. If they get behindfrustration and futility may cause them to struggle, act up, or give up.

Teachers should recognize this and know how to give students the extra helpthey need in the classroom and comunicate to the parents how to help at home.If the parents don't have the skills to help their kids or don't have the timebecause they are working two jobs or evenings learning is inhibited and motivationwill be weak.

It is inexcusable to me that these numbers are so low and have been for some time.The numbers demonstrate that traditional methods and classrooms are not working forAA and Latino children yet we continue to try and educate them the same way each year.

The numbers for whites and Asians are better but to me seem much too low.

I'm not an educator but I pay attention. I know that children in DISD are being givenlots of homework and are being challenged to pass annual tests. Until a way is foundand implemented to drill those basics in the early grades and build the brains,habits and confidence of each child the failure of the education system will continue.

One of the commenters suggested boarding school as a solution and I have to admitit's an extreme sounding remedy but if the students aren't getting support and discipineat home few will succeed and the record shows it.

Of course there are cultural and economic issues, and factors like nutrition and a goodnight's sleep are important too. But schools have to come up with a learning and teachingsolution to overcome this unacceptable performance. I agree that trade school courses wouldbe very valuable to boys and girls and there should be magnet type schools for those. But we still need to develop reading, writing and arithmetic ability in those early years.

GUEST
GUEST

I'd like to hear a little bit of discussion on black students getting  'acting white' accusations - is that still prevalent? I had a friend who had a lot of trouble with that (also flack from Parkies for being black - he got it on both sides). However, as soon as he finished college and had a great job, those "peers" always wanted some cash.

School_Is_For_Losers
School_Is_For_Losers

School districts could spend a million dollars per student and it wouldn't make one bit of difference if the child and the parents don't give a damn and that is the real problem. 

Dilwad
Dilwad

If 68% of the DISD student population is Hispanic, then what do we care that only 3 out of a hundred blacks qualify for college. We need less black, no white and 70% Hispanic on the DISD school board, teacher population, administrators, etc. Do the math, dingbats!

RTGolden
RTGolden

"....You need money to teach students. Over the last two years, the state cut us $100 million."What she fails to point out is that statewide spending on pre-primary through secondary education increased from 2006-2007. 

It is not a matter of needing more money.  It is a matter of better using the money we have.  Instead of consolidating schools why not consolidate athletic facilities and stadiums?  Do high school football coaches really need wireless communications to the offensive coordinator up in the booth?  Do high school football programs really need offensive coordinators?  How many high school athletes are going to make it into the professional level of the sport they are in?  Does it make sense to spend vast amounts of public money on high school athletics?  Shouldn't public money be spent on ALL students?  If parents want their kids to receive top-notch athletic preparation, let the parents pay for it.

Another thing I don't see mentioned much is trade-oriented high school programs.  Face it, not every kid can go to college and succeed (unless you want to make the yardstick for success in college laughably low).  But there is a legitimate argument to be made for trade oriented programs.  We need mechanics, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and, of course, air conditioner techs.  In addition, these are careers that pay well and actually get people active in the economy faster than college, as an apprentice is usually a paid employee.

anti-education culture
anti-education culture

It's all about culture. Poor hispanics don't do well on tests, either, but once they leave school, a lot of them bust their butts at home helping out the family, or in some kind of manual labor. Poor Asians tend to strive to educate themselves, or they open up some kind of enterprise. Poor blacks enter and leave school with a chip on their shoulder and an entitlement mentality of ''imma get me mine," while adding little to society and taking away so much more. It's that anti-learning, anti-education, anti-self improvement attitude that corrodes so much. It's gonna take long time and a lot of self-examination to improve, the latter of which is sadly lacking in the black community. 

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Black kids aren't doing badly bc they are black.They are doing badly bc of behavior choices made by their parents--behavior choices that are common to many in the low socioeconomic strata.

If we keep addressing these problems through the lens of race, we will never solve the problem.

DISD needs to realistically name the obstacles facing these kids and work to overcome those factors as much as possible (for example, we know kids aren't reading chapter books in their chaotic homes, so build in a 30 minute reading time during the school day).

Nutall and the need to attach race to everything is a tired attempt to win votes.How exploitative to do this at the expense of kids.

DISDescapee
DISDescapee

Nutall says she  did the report for "my community". Does that mean she only represents the African American community? And yet she wants to educate "all the children"? Sounds like "all the children" (Hispanics) are doing just as poorly, so why single out AA's? The race based agenda is part of the problem. We have race based math  (teachers are astronauts, poor kids get that), race based science (black kids learn weather better with conga lines). Where has that gotten us? And you can't blame the lack of funding for the last two years. This problem has roots a lot deeper. It's not how you teach or how many dollars you spend. Change will come when parents and society demand and expect that these kids succeed. Change will come when  DISD throws out every race based program and curriculum guide they paid dearly for and raise their expectations. Send the bad apples to alternative school permanently, then teach the remaining kids to THINK, and let them LEARN.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

How about a reality check ?Do these young people even want to go to collage ?

 

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Wow. That report is flooring. I despised the SAT because I sucked at it, but these kids aren't coming close to qualifying for college. Kinda makes sense why so many of them don't even take it if their peers are telling them there's no point(I'm guessing on that one).

primi timpano
primi timpano

This is a deeper hole than I could ever imagine.  I thought the dropout rate was devastating, these numbers are numbingly tragic.  It's time to stop digging.

Would be interested in teacher, principal, family income and family composition correlations, though with numbers this low I don't see how anything will make much of a meaningful difference.

With these results I wonder why more students don't drop out, they are obviously wasting their time at school.

Guest
Guest

Unfair Park spoke to Matt Houston, president of the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals, who attended the forum.

http://bit.ly/IrQ73G

If Lee Horsley can't solve this, nobody can.

Its So Sad
Its So Sad

Despite what all the press conference reports tell you, teachers are doing an outstanding job against all odds.

When your BOT & Administration tells you what a terrible job you're doing, and then you can't seem to find a working contact number for the child's parents, it is a little more challenging to get Johnny/Juan to read.

The parents, or lack thereof, are the problem. That was the problem 40 years ago when I was in college, and it is even MORE of a problem today. The parents who care don't send their children to public school. GET IT? They have moved to the burbs, private school, or charter school.

The urban public school is becoming a large "alternative education program" for the children of families that either don't have any other option (never true) or don't care or realize that there are other options. More money won't solve the problems, but LESS MONEY WILL CERTAINLY MAKE IT WORSE!

What is ultimately SO SAD is that the politicians and the educrats (LOVE that term!) exploit our children and the system for their own purposes, and the children suffer. Dallas WILL NOT find a solution, because the BOT doesn't want to! That's part of why the teachers' voices are ignored.

GET IT?

primi timpano
primi timpano

 Read the article.  The unqualified rate for latinos is only one point better than blacks.  I suspect this is not some much a race issue as an economic and sociological problem.

Borborygmus
Borborygmus

Yes RT, and then the state cut property tax income to schools by 1/3. And the mathletes we vote into office found that the replacement tax for property taxes fell short, just as they had been warned it would.

If we're going to criticize kids for not learning, when are we going to do something about those at the very, very top?

Few athletes do make it to professional level of sports. But many go into sports and physically related fields: medicine, physical training, sports writing. While never an athlete myself, I can see the positive influences that replace what's missing at home: honor, truth, hard work, pride in achievement. For some kids, this is the only place they learn these - and the something that keeps them coming every day.

There are no "school specific" sports facilities, they are all shared. Concessions is typically run by a vendor approved by the district (privatized), or by charitable organizations.

Trade-oriented high school programs are now called Magnet schools. They can offer several courses that can lead to technical colleges, but at the base, these colleges still require good math, reading and speaking skills.

Guest
Guest

Just a little example of wastefulness that probably doesn't amount to much but might symbolize quite a bit, there's a classroom at an elementary school in one of the northern suburbs in which the powers-that-be keep decided to remove and rebuild a section of the wall.

First they (not the teachers in the classrooms, someone higher up in the school) want to combine two classrooms, so they remove a big section of the wall. Then they decide that the classrooms shouldn't be combined, so they rebuild the wall. And now they've decided the classrooms should be connected again, so they're putting in a door.

All this over the course of three years.

Now, tearing down and rebuilding and tearing down again a wall is probably not all that expensive in the grand scheme of things, but it still strikes me as an example of wastefulness that shouldn't be tolerated when you're dealing with someone else's money (and also, you know, begging people to retire at that very school so you don't have to fire people due to budget cuts).

RTGolden
RTGolden

crap.. should say statewide spending on education increased from 2006 - 2010.

Guest
Guest

 Poor Asians tend to strive to educate themselves, or they open up some kind of enterprise

Like convenience stores in black neighborhoods.

primi timpano
primi timpano

I agree that race is not the best factor for measuring college readiness, but the Latino numbers were terrible, too, and it is my understanding these two racial groups comprise a high percentage of students, thus my comment requesting correlations with household income, family composition (single parent, single grandparent raising child, number of childern, parent's work situation, one income earner, two income earner, etc.)  I would also be interested if the effect of terrible and great teachers, i.e., does a terrible 3rd grade teacher wreck an education, put it back a year, etc., with the same info re great teachers, e.g., can a great teacher make up the deficiencies of a terrrible teacher.  With numbers this bad there must be a lot of factors creating this disaster.  But I thought the dropout rate was a disaster.  If DISD were a business it would be closed down.  I have no idea how to turn around these numbers; they are beyond abysmal and despair.  Maybe time for a mandatory national boarding school program.

primi timpano
primi timpano

 I think you can safely assume the following:

Some of the 97% graduating unqualified for college want to go to college.  Some may go to college.  Of these some will do well, some ok, but I fear being initally unqualified many more will drop out.

If students were better informed about the importance of a college education as a prerequisite for an economically sustainable future, many more would want to go to college.

What the kids may want has nothing to do with what they are not being taught and not being learned.

Daniel
Daniel

Most of them wanted to go to multi-media installations or what's known as "found art." 

RTGolden
RTGolden

I'm not arguing to remove athletics from schools.  I'm saying a high school football program does not need a head coach, a defensive coordinator, an offensive coordinator, a qb coach, a receivers coach, a line coach, a strength coach, etc.  It doesn't need on-field wireless communications.  All you really need is a coach and maybe two assistants, a football, the necessary safety gear, and a field to play on.

As far as the magnets go, that's going too far in the trade direction.  High School should be preparing our children to enter adulthood.  A solid grounding in reading, writing, arithmetic, literature, some arts, history and science.  Electives can cover any specificity that might crop up.  High School isn't supposed to make college-ready, or trade-ready, kids.  It's supposed to produce life-ready kids.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Amen and amen.

The money is going to superintendents and vast off-campus bureaucracies.  And sports.

Edu-crats never attack those things; they just go on and on and on about teachers.  

The gravy train rolls on for everyone else.

gladnotsad
gladnotsad

"like convenience stores in black neighborhoods"--sounds like a pretty difficult way to make a living.....

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Yes--I agree with all of your points.Sorry if I sounded otherwise.

All the factors you listed are waaay more important than race: how many parents, how old was the mother when she had the kids, what is her income level, etc.

I am very, very curious about teacher demographics (race, age, income level) vis a vis student performance, but that is not readily available.  Re: student performance: The Hispanics tend to fare a little better bc most have 2-parent families through elementary school.  That makes a lot of difference.The Black kids generally are born into single-parent homes.The Hispanic immigrants generally value work.In DISD, the middle class Blacks have moved out.  They value education and work.The Black pop we are left with seems to value neither, which is sad bc smart kids are smart kids regardless of exterior skin color.I do not believe a single teacher can derail a child; that has not been my experience as a DISD parent with some amazingly bad teachers at the middle school level.  It's more of a systemic problem--which emphasizes constant district-written tests to create jobs for adults (they write the tests).The Hispanic students seem hungry for trade schools.  They cannot get jobs after college without "papers" and they know it, so a college-prep curric bores them and puts them to sleep.

Again, if we would put aside PC, we could serve these kids.  We could prepare them to choose college OR the workforce.    

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

 Sounds like those 97% dont even want to go to High School so how can you assume they want to go to college.

But I will agree with you point that "if they only knew" and if they only knew how accessible the funds are when you live at or near the poverty line. Our government wants you to be educated and make a good living and pay more tax, and that is generally a good call.  

Its all about hope and breaking those chains of family and neighborhood drama that seems to hold so many people back, and that goes for white hillbilly trash too

primi timpano
primi timpano

 Honor, pride, work ethic and achievement are great attributes, whether learned on the football field or in the chess club.  But today's better jobs require reading, math and computer skills.  And for many of these jobs, especially the ones with promotional opportunities, a college education is the price for just getting your resume read.  Yes, there are exceptions, but they are becoming fewer and with ever lower pay scales.

I really don't see the wisdom of spending a lot of money on competitive athletic programs when less than 5% of the student body is qualified for college.  PE class, yes, especially if it emphasizes the importance of regular exercise.  Texas high school football?  This is a cult whose time has come.

Guest
Guest

If you don't mind the protests and the calls that your hard work should just be handed to someone else based solely on the color of their skin, it's probably not so bad.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

-The beauty of "college-ready" is that it is a concept that can be exploited by any educrat anywhere.  -With the SAT/ACT, who determines if a score is "college-ready"?  Wouldn't that be up to each individual college?  Harvard's definition of college-ready is far different from Sul Ross State's definition.  For El Centro, you don't even need an SAT score to be considered "college-ready".  It's a racket.-The state tests have a "college-ready" minimum score, which I think got the whole ball rolling-If the kids test in Spanish, they will definitely not be able to cut it in college.  -The STAAR will allow some kids to take some tests in Spanish.  This is to make sure that they are actually being taught instead of just doing arts and crafts.  All eventually transition to English bc without English proficiency, they definitely will be disadvantaged.-DISD's currently teaches kids K-5 in Spanish, whether they were born here or not.  It's such a disservice to the kids.  They will never catch up with fluent English speakers.  

Max
Max

There are no colleges that teach courses in Spanish. Being college ready in the US means being fluent in English regardless of what language a person speaks at home. Indeed, one of DISD's problems is it does not do a great job of bilingual education (despite the many advantages that would offer in today's world).

However, both you and DISD teacher do a much better job of bringing up relevant challenges than the BOT ever has with their blame the teacher/chase the latest think tank trend mentality.

primi timpano
primi timpano

 Thx for the food for thought.  I am still mortified at the extent of the problem and vexed there seems to be no ready solution.  This isn't a new problem, just an endemic problem newly quantified in a different way, and I am sure it isn't limited to Dallas or Texas, but long term this has dangerous forebodings.for the students and our city.

primi timpano
primi timpano

 Are you sure?  The report seemed to reference SAT/ACT scores, not Texas internal testing standards.  I think there is something wrong about not having Spanish language testing options; I understand that American schools teach in English, but there are an awful lot of brilliant people who do not speak English.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Sorry--I also meant to reassure you that the kids--the majority of them--are doing well. 90% of us between 1950-1990 would have been considered "not college-ready." It's a made-up term designed to scare everyone.The TEKS set forth by the state are good, and DISD kids--when they're not wasting time taking DISD-written practice tests--are learning very difficult concepts.

That a Hispanic immigrant who has lived here (and read in English) for less than 3 years cannot decide the specifics of atom reactivity on a standardized test does not concern me.  But that child would be considered "not college-ready."  

It has nothing to do with race.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Well, if it makes you feel any better, don't automatically buy into the hype about "college ready."  It's a new edu-crat term designed to freak people out so they will gladly throw more millions into the pockets of the...wait for it....non-campus educrats.

And while DISD's graduation rate is pathetic, that's quite likely a function of the fact that almost all we have are the lowest socio-economic kids in the area.  Probably the percentage of poverty-level kids graduating hasn't changed much.

Morath talks a good talk about changing things, but every time, he defaults to people who are not in classrooms.

Teachers know how to fix these concrete problems, but the board doesn't want to hear from us.  We've tried throwing millions at the problems and things are getting worse.  Let's try something new.

*I like TFA teachers, but overall they are not moving the needle on achievement.  They really can't because the problems aren't at the teacher level despite what TFA's sales pitch says.  And their head honchos get $3 million of our taxes just because.  $3 million from poor kids.  With very little to show for it.

primi timpano
primi timpano

 DISD Teacher,We have had differences on a lot of issues, but these numbers show the problems are so far beyond issues about teachers, priincipals, and even families.  I have been a teach for america optimist but these numbers are over whelming. I would think the law of averages would result in higher success rates for almost any group, whether race, economics, administration and probably dozens of factors of I an completely unaware.  I am at a complete loss about all of this.  The numbers are so bad I have to believe that the finest statistical and and regression analyses will not uncover a  few identifiable and solvable issues.  It is so bad i don't know if even the finest board with adequate funds can deal with this.  obviously there are a lot of non-school factors contributing to this disaster, but solving family problems involves such a range of economic and social difficulties i wonder if we can change life in dallas in even two or three generations, assuming there is a plan and money to deal with it.  This is probably the most despairing report I have read in years.  It makes dealing with the national budget an act of simplicity, and the implications are just as bad as a national budget disaster.  I cannot imagine being a teacher and going to work every day with these kinds of odds against you.  My compliments to your efforts. I pray there is an answer..

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