School puff piece looks AWFUL behind-the-scenes

A listener pointed this out to me.

You may have seen the social justice feel-good story run by The Capital Times (Madison's Progressive Newspaper) on a program at Hawthorne Elementary to build African-American girls' self-esteem.  I'm not against building self-esteem, as long as it's for a good reason--say, like creating a better LEARNING environment in schools.

But that's NOT what appears to be happening at Hawthorne Elementary in Madison, WI.  

A quick look at the DPI "Wisedash" database on scores on the last Forward Exam (the statewide proficiency test) shows that the kids at Hawthorne need something, but it's probably NOT teaching them how to self-aggrandize.  And remember, the statewide "Forward Exam" proficiency test has been criticized for setting the bar far TOO LOW for proficiency, which only makes this even more depressing. 

For Hawthorne, the data show the school isn't doing so well--with less than A QUARTER of students proficient or advanced in English Language Arts or Math:

  • apprx. 77% of Hawthorne students tested NOT proficient in ELA (reading / writing)
    • 34 were proficient or advanced in ELA
    • 110 were not proficient in ELA
  • apprx. 78% of Hawthorne students were NOt proficient in math
    • 32  were proficient or advanced in math
    • 112 were not proficient in math

BUT THE NUMBERS GET WORSE  when you look at outcomes by race:

Take black students, the subject of the article.

Nearly 100% of Hawthorne's black students were NOT proficient in BOTH ELA and Math. (94% for both) 

  • only 2 black Hawthorne students tested proficient in reading
  • only 2 black hawthorne students tested proficent in math
  • ZERO black hawthorne students tested advanced in either reading or math
    • For context, white kids did better - but not "well" 
    • apprx. 45% of Hawthorne's white kids were proficient in reading 
    • apprx. 40% of Hawthornes white kids were proficient in math

On the gender front, Hawthorne's outcomes look pretty similar to the school's student-wide outcomes.

  • Apprx. 72% of hawthorne girls were NOT proficent in ELA (77% schoolwide)
  • Apprx 76% of hawthorne girls were NOT proficient in math (78% school wide)

Building self-esteem is great, but what happens to a student's "self-worth" if she is being set up to fail academically?  If only the article would have cared enough to ask.


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