TUDA Mathematics Results Out Today

by Robert Pondiscio
December 8th, 2009

New NAEP numbers, the Trial Urban District Assessment or “TUDA” for math, are out this morning, looking at 4th and 8th grade samples from 18 urban school  districts.  From the IES news release: 

  • In comparison to 2007, scores improved in two districts at each grade in 2009.  Scores did not change for the remaining nine districts that participated in 2007.
  • Five districts at both grade 4 and grade 8 had higher scores than large cities nationally in 2009. Ten districts had scores lower than large cities at both grades.
  • When compared to 2003, the 2009 average mathematics scores at grade 4 were higher in eight out of ten participating districts, and in nine out of ten participating districts at grade 8.
  • Average mathematics scores in 2009 were higher for Hispanic fourth-graders in seven out of ten participating districts, when compared to 2003. Over the same period, White and Black fourth-graders achieved higher scores in five districts each.

The full report is available at http://nationsreportcard.gov

WH Official: Hispanics Lack “Sense of Urgency” on Education

by Robert Pondiscio
December 8th, 2009

Here’s a comment I haven’t seen repeated or discussed anywhere.  Juan Sepulveda, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, said in New Mexico last week that Hispanics aren’t being aggressive enough about closing the academic achievement gap.  According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal, Sepulveda has visited 18 states discussing the Hispanic achievement gap and “noticed a disturbing trend”:

The most surprising thing…in our conversations is what I didn’t hear, and that was a sense of urgency,” Sepulveda said at a summit in Albuquerque. “We hope you can step up to help us to create the national will, the political will to say, ‘This is something that has to happen now,’ and to create a sense of urgency that we can’t lose another generation.”

To its credit, the Obama Administration has been clear and consistent in preaching the gospel of parental responsibility (to what degree that is reflected in its policies is up for debate), most notably in the President’s “put away the Xbox” speech to the NAACP.  Sepulveda’s remarks can be viewed in that light. 

I’ll defer to Sepulveda’s take, even if it feels not quite right.  Anecdotal observations from my time teaching mostly Hispanic kids in the South Bronx drives my perception:  The families I worked with, often first or second generation Americans, defered almost reflexively to school personnel on issues of student performance, and even on discipline.  It feels to me that the issue is not a lack of urgency, but what I interpreted as a lack of experience advocating on their children’s behalf, plus few models of what effective schooling looks like.  In short, the parents of the students I worked with were not critical consumers of education.  If the school said “your child is doing fine” or “we’re doing just fine” there was almost always taken at face value.  There was very little pushback.