Virginia has set new benchmarks for academic progress for its students, but the decision to set different standards based on race has sparked controversy, with some saying blacks are being held to lower standards, NPR reports.
Under the new standards, the state proposed a passing rate – the percentage of the students who post passing test scores in reading and math – at 82 percent for Asian students, 68 percent for whites, 52 percent for Latinos, 45 percent for blacks and 33 percent for kids with disabilities.
When the state revised its tests last year, the pass rate for all students dropped, but African American scores in mathematics dropped the farthest, by 25 points.
In a phone interview with NPR, Wright explained that Virginia’s expectation is that all students, regardless of race or ethnicity, will correctly answer the same number of questions to pass the state tests.
But the reality is that black and Latino children generally don’t do as well as white and Asian children, and that gap, says Wright, is what the new policy is meant to address by setting more modest goals for struggling minority children and giving them more time to catch up.
But black lawmakers said the guidelines marginalize African American children.
“If we don’t demand the best of our children, we won’t receive the best,” said a state senator.