Parenting media is shouting for joy over the newly published results from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress:
Scores show girls and students of color in the fourth and eighth grades are improving in science.
“Achievement gaps are narrowing because all students are improving. Minority students and girls are making greater gains to narrow these gaps. This is exactly what we like to see: all students improving, but students at the bottom of the distribution making faster gains,” elaborates Peggy Carr, National Center for Education Statistics commissioner.
The true meaning of this statistical milestone is found reading between the lines in Parents magazine:
In school, I never did that well in science classes. Thinking back, I realized I always felt I just wasn’t good at it; that I couldn’t understand it, and perhaps my self-doubt was to blame for my mediocre performance. I’m not sure where my belief that I couldn’t excel in science came from. It could have had something to do with cultural messages that girls just aren’t good at STEM subjects, but I don’t know for sure.
This vague blather boils down to the fact that “girls and students of color” are believed to be doing better in STEM because educators are making a concentrated effort to “believe” in them. It’s an educational philosophy that sounds a lot like Theodor Herzl’s infamous, “If you will it, it is no dream.” In reality, it comes out a lot more Costanza-ish: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
This “style” of education, for lack of a better term, started becoming popular when I was an adolescent. Suddenly we were forced to “integrate” into “multicultural” groups and bow to the ideas, however inane, of the “minority” among us. (For the full story, see #4 on this list.) The theory behind this shift from encouraging all of us to excel to all of us encouraging minorities to excel was that students who fit a particular physical description needed the rest of us to carry their psychological weight so they could succeed.
In the end, of course, our entire society ended up being burdened – weighed down by affirmative action’s “you don’t believe in me!” subculture that favors esteem over education. Dig below the fold (or, in this case, below the mid-section ad) in this latest report and you’ll find that the scores really aren’t that impressive at all:
Specifically, eighth-graders, who last took the test in 2011, saw an average scores increase of 2 points And the average scores for fourth-graders increased 4 points since being tested in 2009.
Breaking it down even further, girls in the fourth grade now have the same average science score as boys. (Hooray!)
And while the gap between white students and those of color is narrowing, on average, black students still scored 33 points lower and Hispanic students performed 27 points lower, which is obviously highly concerning.
Oh, and by the way, twelfth-graders “didn’t show any significant progress or change” at all.
Wait a minute. I thought you said “students of color” were “improving”? Oh, 2 points-improving, but still tens of points below everyone else? Is this like giving a performance trophy to the team who bothered to show up? Of course it is. And in an even more entertaining slap in the face to feminism, the girls “now have the same average score as boys.” So you’re saying girls really are as smart as boys, when an entire bureaucratic system dumps millions of taxpayer dollars into self-esteem programming?
Perhaps when educators can focus their time and energy on teaching instead of cheerleading, students of all racial, ethnic and gender makeups will have the chance to succeed on what academia so desperately lacks: An even playing field.