Monday, December 19, 2011

Seattle African Immigrants Outscore American Blacks, Biggest Shock Asians?

Seattle study finds that when students are broken down by language, immigrants from Africa from places like Somalia outscore African American native english speakers, even in English, though they still fall short of whites. If a group of Africans scores higher than natives, I would call that encouraging, not alarming as it proves "institutional racism" evidently doesn't doom all black students equally. Amharic, spoken by Ethiopians did the best of the African groups, 62% pass, not too far from 70% district average which throws in whites and Asians. One problem is that we should spend less time comparing groups with disparate history economics and cultural and economic capital, it's like trying to berate one kid for not achieving what his brother did. Everybody's job is to do as well as they can, not prove who can make mom the happiest of her children. Even Asian kids would go up the wall even more than they do now if Asian parents expected them to do EVERYTHING better than white kids. (oh no, I fear that's the next generation of Asian parents...)

Here is the full pdf

Here's one summary from
In short, immigrant Black students out-perform African-American students on state tests. 62% of black students who come from homes where Amharic is spoken passed the state math tests while the pass rate for black students from English-speaking homes was only 36%. Even in the Reading tests, those who come from a home where Amharic is spoken passed at a 74% rate while those from English-speaking homes passed at a 56% rate.

Anonymous said...
Just an FYI, Amharic is the language of Ethiopian people, not Somali people.

Seattle parent
emeraldkity said...
Just because they have similar complexions? What else do these folks have in common?

I have been working with immigrant populations in SPS & these score differences don't surprise me at all.

Interestingly, they omit Asian languages, as I've noted the SAT breakdowns show Asians who speak English as a first language don't score a high in math as immigrants (though their english is better and their combined scores is higher than any race / language group). But nobody thinks that's a shocking indictment of American racism, and I still can't believe how many people say American schools are awful when there are parents in Asia who sacrifice their lives to get their kids into an American school where they have a chance to get into a  college they might not have in Asia, never mind Hispanics don't have any problem with the quality of schools here compared to Latin America.

Here is the Asian table

Risk assessment Spectrum 0-least 10-most

Highest scoring black group Amharic 2.8 stands out as the least at-risk group, that's a big part of it. No mention in the article.  Top groups = Korean, Japanese and Chinese, Vietnamese. Big group missing is WHITE

Korean 1.1
Japanese 1.3
Chinese 1.4
Vietnamese 2.2
Asian Indian 2.3
Filipino 2.6
Amharic 2.8
Hispanic English 3.5
district 3.0---------------------------------
Tigrinya 3.7
Other Asian 3.9
Cambodia 4.1
Oromo Ethiopia 5.1
Spanish Hispanic 5.3
English-AfAm 5.4
Samoan 5.5
Somali 5.5

Math %met  including ELL. In seattle at least, english speaking Chinese are also better at math.

91% Chinese not ELL
88% Japanese
88% Korean
87% Chinese
82% Vietnamese not ELL
75% Vietnamese
67% Filipino
66% District
66% Asian Indian
58% English Hispanic
57% Other Asian
53% Cambodian
51% Amharic African
46%  Tigrinya African
39% Samoan
39% Spanish Hispanic
39% Oromo Ethiopia
36% English Black

28% Somali

Nobody noticed my 90s study which found that Seattle whites broken out score higher than any district except for Mercer Island, so there is not such thing as a "standard" white population. Seattle's whites score much higher than whites in most suburbs, even the Gypsy population that was tracked back then - they scored the same as other whites. Blacks scored about the same as suburbs, while Asians were the only group that score worse than in the suburbs. I've found that though blacks lag whites, they are not far below the national average and ahead of blacks in most other cities.

 It's also important to note that Asians do range from at worst, slightly worse than whites no matter how spectacularly bad a city district performs up to the pattern I found in Seattle that Renton Asians scored as well as whites in Bellevue, Asian in Bellevue scored as well as whites in Mercer Island, and Asians in Mercer Island scored as well as whites in the best private schools, generally one notch up the scale compared to whites. I know Asian families whose parents have no high school diploma who work their way up into owning restaurants and rental houses who send all their kids to the University of Washington, which my family hasn't done with 2 college degrees. (OK, we've got one at the UW and one at private Seattle U)

see 'Alarming' new test-score gap discovered in Seattle schools 
For the first time, Seattle Public Schools officials have broken down test scores by specific home language. The recently announced results revealed a surprising trend that may have implications for policy around the district.

African-American students whose primary language is English perform significantly worse in math and reading than black students who speak another language at home — typically immigrants or refugees — according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools.
....Michael Tolley, an executive director overseeing Southeast Seattle schools, said at the meeting that the data exposed a new achievement gap that is "extremely, extremely alarming."
Traditional factors in low performance, such as poverty and single-parent homes, are generally shared by black immigrants and nonimmigrants alike.
...The results, although preliminary, were eye-opening:
• Only 36 percent of black students who speak English at home passed their grade's math test, while 47 percent of Somali-speaking students passed. Other black ethnic groups did even better, although still lower than the district average of 70 percent.
• In reading, 56 percent of black students who speak English passed, while 67 percent of Somali-speaking students passed. Again, other black ethnic groups did better, though still lower than the district average of 78 percent.
...Most of all, Teoh said, because the English-speaking category includes students of many black ethnic groups, it's impossible to compare specific ethnic groups.
...Pamela Bennett, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, agreed. She conducted a study in 2009 that found that immigrant black high-school graduates attend college at a much higher rate than black or white students born in the U.S. The reason was that the immigrants had a higher socioeconomic background, she said.
...Seattle School Board member Betty Patu, who has worked for decades with community groups serving students of color, said she has noticed that all immigrant families, regardless of socioeconomic status, place high value on education.

Racial expectations?
...McLaren, a former teacher, believes that black students whose families have been in the U.S. for generations often perform poorly because schools and general societal structures have imposed a culture of low expectations on them dating back to the days of slavery.
...Rita Green, vice president of the Rainier Beach PTSA, said teachers don't push black students as hard as immigrant students.
..Several studies have shown that teachers' feelings about how students will perform impact how the students actually perform.

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