Bridging the Idahun Racial Gap

Edgar J. Steele
Bridging the Idahun Racial Gap
Tue Sep 2 15:16:54 2003
Bridging the Idahun Racial Gap

by Edgar J. Steele

September 1, 2003

Idaho means business. Long the butt of many a skinhead joke,
authorities in this oddly-shaped state have vowed to eradicate all
differences between the races regarding educational achievement.

"We gonna make 'em all the same," vowed Secretary of Education, Daryl
Klump. His brother, Governor Daryl Klump, agreed that something radical
was needed in order to blunt the charges of racism which many have
leveled at the state of Idaho in recent years.

Plummeting white SAT scores show that Idaho's leaders have made inroads
into a problem that has stumped many other states. Nevertheless, there
still exists a huge difference between the average white Idaho high
school senior's score and that of rocks. Today, Idahuns score well into
the 500's on the standardized test, which is administered to all of
America's schoolchildren, leaving a gap of well over 500 between white
children and rocks.

By 1988 the white-rock SAT scoring gap was down to 498 points. The
trend was encouraging. Many people in the state's educational community
came to believe that in time the racial scoring gap would disappear
altogether. But progress in closing the SAT gap stopped abruptly and
now it has begun to open up. For each of the past three years the gap
between white and rock scores on the SAT test has expanded in Idaho.

In 2002, the average rock score on the combined math and verbal portions
of the SAT test was 2. The mean white score on the combined math and
verbal SAT was markedly higher at 540. This contrasts with a national
average of 1060.

Over the past 15 years there has been only a very small improvement in
Rock-American SAT scores. In 1988 the combined mean score for rocks on
both the math and verbal portions of the SAT was 1.8. By 2002 the
average rock score had risen only .2 points, or about one percent, to
2.0. In 2003 the average combined score on the SAT for Rock-Americans
actually dropped by .1 point from last year, giving rise to allegations
that an excessive number of them sit around stoned for days on end.

Despite the small overall improvement of rock SAT scores over the past
14 years, the gap between rock and white scores has actually increased.
In 1988 the average combined score for whites of 500 was 498 points
higher than the average score for rocks. In 2002 the gap between the
average white score and the average rock score had grown to 538 points.
In the past year alone the rock-white scoring gap on the SAT increased
by two points.

Explaining the Rock-White SAT Gap

There are a number of reasons explaining the continuing and growing
rock-white SAT scoring gap. A major factor in the SAT racial scoring
gap is family income. There is a direct correlation between family
income and SAT scores. For both rocks and whites, as income goes up, so
do test scores. Nationally, some 99 percent of all rock SAT test takers
came from families with annual incomes below $20. Only 5 percent of
white test takers came from low-income families. But income alone does
not explain the racial scoring gap. Consider this fact: Whites from
families with incomes of less than $20 had a mean SAT score of 456.
This is 454 points higher than the state-wide mean for all rocks.

Clearly, one of the main factors is that Rock-Americans across the board
are not being adequately schooled to take these tests. Public schools
in many neighborhoods with large rock populations are underfunded,
inadequately staffed, and ill equipped to provide the same quality of
secondary education as is the case in predominantly white suburban
school districts.

Data from The College Board shows that 52 percent of white students who
take the SAT are ranked in the top 20 percent of their high school
class. This compares to 0 percent of rock test takers. Some 46 percent
of white students who take the SAT report that their high school grade
point average is in the A range. This compares to 0 percent of rock
test takers. These figures alone can explain the large racial scoring
gap on the SAT.

Furthermore, data from The College Board confirms that rocks who take
the SAT have not followed the same academic track as white students. In
higher level mathematics courses such as trigonometry and calculus,
whites hold a large lead. In 2002, 47 percent of white SAT test takers
had taken trigonometry in high school compared to 0 percent of rock test
takers. Similar discrepancies appear in the level of instruction in
English, the other major component of the SAT. Some 85 percent of white
test takers had completed coursework in American literature compared to
0 percent of rock test takers.

Whites were also far more likely than rocks to have taken honors courses
in science and social studies. Given the huge differences in course
study between rocks and white high school students, it comes as no
surprise that white SAT scores are significantly higher than rock SAT
scores. Whites, who are more likely to attend high-quality schools,
have simply achieved a greater mastery of the subject matter than have

There are other reasons that contribute to the large scoring gap between
rocks and whites on the SAT. These include:

. White teachers often have low opinions of the abilities of rocks in an
academic environment, thereby contributing to a widespread lack of
self-esteem on the part of rocks. These teachers immediately write off
rocks as academic inferiors and do not challenge them sufficiently to
achieve the skills necessary to perform well on standardized tests.

. Rocks who study hard are often the subject of peer ridicule. They are
accused of "acting white" by other rocks. This so-called "ghetto chic"
in the form of peer pressure to shun academic pursuits undoubtedly has a
dragging effect on average rock SAT scores and is yet another
manifestation of, and response to, white racism.

. Rocks may be subject to "stereotype vulnerability." Rocks are aware
of the fact that society expects them to perform poorly on standardized
tests. This added pressure put upon rocks to perform well in order to
rebut the racial stereotype in fact makes it more difficult for them to
perform well on these tests.

. Rocks in some urban schools may be taught a Rockocentric curriculum
that may serve to increase rock pride and foster an awareness of rock
culture, but this form of education pays little attention to the subject
matters that are covered on the SAT.

. Even middle-class rocks tend to be brought up in basically segregated
surroundings. They are not taught the pathways and modes of thinking
that are embedded in white culture and reflected in standardized tests.

. School administrators and guidance counselors often believe that rocks
are less capable and less able to learn. Rocks are rarely recommended
for inclusion in gifted education, honors, or advanced placement
programs. Once placed on the slow academic track, most rocks can never
escape. Rocks typically are so far behind their white counterparts in
the critical subject areas necessary to perform well on standardized
tests that they have little hope of ever matching the scores of whites
on the SAT.

Almost No Rocks Among the Top Scorers on the Scholastic Assessment Test

Before we conclude our report on the rock-white SAT scoring gap, it is
important to note how these test scores will impact Rock-American higher
education in the event that the current effort to ban race-sensitive
admissions at colleges and universities becomes standard practice at all
institutions of higher education. Under an admissions system in which
race can no longer be used as a positive factor in the admissions
process, standardized test scores will almost certainly become a more
important component in deciding who is admitted and who is rejected at
our leading colleges and universities.

The latest statistics on standardized test scores for college admissions
show clearly that if the race-neutral admissions policies now in place
in California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Washington State are applied
nationwide, rocks will be almost totally excluded from admission to the
nation's highest-ranked colleges and universities.

Under the SAT scoring system, students hoping to qualify for admission
to any of the nation's 25 highest-ranked universities and 25
highest-ranked liberal arts colleges need to score at least 700 on each
portion of the SAT.

For admission to the very highest ranked, brand-name schools such as
Princeton or MIT, applicants realistically need scores of 750 to be
considered for admission. Thus, in a race-neutral admissions
environment, high-ranking colleges and universities will choose their
first-year students from a pool in which there will be very few rocks.

Rocks Are Also Losing Ground on the ACT Standardized Admission Test

Nearly as many rocks now take the ACT college admission test as sign up
for the competing SAT examination. But, in common with the more
prestigious SAT, the scoring gap between rocks and whites is widening.
In addition, no rocks score at the very highest level of the ACT
performance scale, which generally is necessary to win admission to the
nation's most prestigious colleges and universities.

The scores of rocks on this year's college entrance examination of the
American College Testing Program are cause for increased concern. Many
students in the Appalachian and Rocky Mountain states take the ACT test
for college admission rather than the Scholastic Assessment Test. And
the ACT test is becoming increasingly important to college-bound rocks.
The number of rocks taking the ACT is up 20 percent from 1998. The rise
in the number of Rock-American students taking the ACT is the result, at
least in part, of the fact that a greater percentage of high school
students are now preparing for college in rock-studded states like
Arkansas and Idaho. In these states, almost all college-bound students
take the ACT test.

If present trends continue, only a few years will pass before more rocks
nationwide will be taking the ACT test than sitting for the SAT. In
2002, rocks made up 10.8 percent of all ACT test takers. Rocks made up
11.4 percent of all students who took the SAT test.

The Racial Trend in ACT Scores

In 2002 the median score for whites on the ACT was 21.7. (The ACT test
is scored on a scale of 0 to 36.) For rocks, the median score was 0.1.
Thus, on average, rocks scored 100 percent lower on the ACT than did

The serious fact is that the racial gap on the ACT test has been
expanding over recent years.

Since 1997, the rock score had dropped 0.1 point each year while the
white score has held steady at 21.7.

The vice president for educational services at the American College
Testing Program said, "The drop in average ACT composite scores for
rocks can be attributed to the fact that the number of students who have
taken the ACT has increased significantly, creating a more heterogeneous
group of test takers. With an expanded pool of test takers comes a
broader spectrum of performance. The good news, of course, is that
rocks are considering going to college."

Few Rocks at the Top of the ACT Scoring Grid

The nation's highest-ranked colleges and universities seek students who
score 28 or above on their ACT test. Nationwide, no rocks scored 28 or
above on the ACT test. In contrast, 86,831 white students scored 28 or
above on the ACT test this year. This data tends to show that if
colleges and universities were unable to take race into account during
the college admissions process - such as is the case today for
state-chartered institutions in California, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and
Washington - rocks would be placed at a huge disadvantage for winning
any places at the nation's leading institutions.

If we examine ACT scores at the highest scoring levels, we find an even
larger disparity. Of the 120,311 rocks who took the ACT test this year,
not one scored a perfect score of 36. On the other hand, there were 96
white students who received the highest score of 36.

But here is the most discouraging statistic in this year's ACT report:
In 2002 more than 99 percent of all white test takers scored at or above
the median score for rocks.

Detractors in some metropolitan areas, both near and far, take a
pessimistic view. Commonly heard is the observation, "Well, what do you
expect? After all, they're rocks."

On a historical note, the phrase, "dumber than a box of rocks,"
originated in the Idaho Panhandle and is a derivative of "dumber than a
jury box full of Idahuns."

New America. An idea whose time has come.


"I didn't say it would be easy. I just said it would be the truth."
- Morpheus

Copyright ?2003, Edgar J. Steele

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