MINORITIES AND SPECIAL NEEDS
Amid better results, calls for more help
By C. Kalimah Redd, Boston Globe Correspondent, 3/4/2003
Despite the gains minorities and students with special needs made on the latest
MCAS results, advocates said yesterday schools must do more to help those
students catch up to their peers.
''We applaud the progress that the statistics show is taking place, but it also
says that there are still a significant number of students who are being left
behind,'' said the Rev. Gregory Groover of the Charles Street Church and the
Black Ministerial Alliance, which disagrees with the use of the high-stakes
Scores from the December retest showed improvement among minority and other
special groups, such as limited English proficient and special education
students. For example, students with limited English boosted their passing rate
from 35 percent to 67 percent, but that means 33 percent are still not qualified
The increase was less for special education, African-American, and Hispanic
students. Overall, the class of 2003 increased its passing rate from 81 percent
to 90 percent.
For Jane E. Lopez, a staff attorney for the Multi-Cultural Educational Training
and Advocacy group, that's not good enough. ''The governor and the [education]
commissioner still think that's an acceptable failure rate,'' Lopez said. ''When
you break that down and look at who is in that 10 percent, how can that be
acceptable under any scheme?''
But Neil Sullivan, executive director of the Boston Private Industry Council,
stressed that MCAS has prepared students better academically. He noted that the
results of the December retest showed that in Boston, which increased its
passing rate from 40 percent to 70 percent after four tries, many more students
of color have passed the MCAS.
State officials yesterday argued that MCAS has driven schools to work harder for
minorities and students with special needs. ''I think students in urban schools
in particular are getting the most benefit out of education reform,'' State
Board of Education chairman James A. Peyser said. ''They are getting a lot more
State Board of Education member Abigail Thernstrom agreed. ''We're moving in the
right direction. This is a half-empty, half-full glass,'' she said, while
acknowledging the state must keep pushing to address the achievement gap.
''We're not doing enough of really thinking about how to provide a superb
education for inner-city students, for high-need kids,'' she said.
This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 3/4/2003. © Copyright 2003
Globe Newspaper Company.