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What is behind the achievement gap between poor Asian and Latino students?

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RandySF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 02:54 PM
Original message
What is behind the achievement gap between poor Asian and Latino students?
Edited on Thu Nov-24-11 02:55 PM by RandySF
My son attends a wonderful school is the San Francisco Unified School District located where Nob Hill, Tenderloin and Upper Polk Street neighborhoods meet. As a result, most of the kids come from economically disadvantaged households where another language is spoken. The largest single ethnic group is Asian followed by Latino. Test scores show the Asian students overwhelmingly score at or above proficiency in math and English while Latinos score well below. I've spent the school year trying to figure out the root causes and still cannot figure it out. But I have ruled out a number of factors for the following reasons:

- Economics: Most of the Asian AND Latino students come from immigrant backgrounds who are struggling to get on their feet. Either they were born somewhere else or their parents arrived within the past several years. They tend to live in the Tenderloin and Polk.

- English as second language: Same as above.

- Parental involvement: I refuse to believe that parents of any one background are less involved than others.

Any suggestions?
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 02:57 PM
Response to Original message
1. refuse to believe all you want about parental involvement. it is the #1 predictor of student success
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FreakinDJ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 03:46 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. DING DING DING - We have a Winner Folks
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mwrguy Donating Member (396 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 04:46 AM
Response to Reply #1
11. Absolutely!
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LibDemAlways Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 03:06 PM
Response to Original message
2. Not just parental involvement but parental expectations.
Edited on Thu Nov-24-11 03:08 PM by LibDemAlways
Asian parents take education extremely seriously. At an 8th grade awards assembly at my daughter's middle school I overheard a group of Asian parents discussing their children's grades and agreeing that nothing less than an "A" was ever acceptable. It's very much a cultural thing.

In my daughter's high school graduating class of 2011 three students, all of them Asian and children of immigrants, were accepted to Ivy League Universities - Harvard, Brown, and Columbia, respectively. They all had perfect, or near-perfect SATs, had taken every AP course offered, and participated in every school activity they could squeeze in. Those kids are positively driven.
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 03:08 PM
Response to Original message
3. You left out cultural differences. These are profoundly important to your question.
People, cultures, values, behaviors, are all different from one culture to another.

It's a fact. I work with several SF schools, some have upwards of 80 languages and dialects.

Schools I've worked with:

Cabrillo Elem. School
Alvarado Elem. School
AP Giannini
Balboa
Commodore Sloat Elem.
Frank McCoppin Elem
Lakeshore Elem. School
Presidio
Robert Louis Stevenson
Cesar Chavez Elem.
Everett Middle School
Visitacion Valley
Monroe Elem.
Bessie Carmichael
Lawton Elem. School
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic MS
Marshall Elem. School
Starr King Elem.
Argonne Elem. School
Lafayette Elem. School
Gateway High School
Sunset Elem.
Creative Arts Charter


:patriot:

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tcaudilllg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-03-11 08:41 PM
Response to Reply #3
25. And the primary difference is parental involvement and encouragement
Also don't forget that many Latinos are Christian. Christians live under the Eden Curse, depressing their will to improve the world, because they believe it can't be improved.
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WildNovember Donating Member (726 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. So are most of the Vietnamese living in America. Catholic, to be precise.
Edited on Sun Dec-04-11 03:11 PM by WildNovember
Yet they are one of the most successful groups of Asian immigrants, with education and income above the US average.

Are you saying that Latino parents are less likely to help and encourage their children than Asian parents?
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ZombieHorde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 03:09 PM
Response to Original message
4. Most Asian cultures are atheist and most Latino cultures are Christian. nt

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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 10:58 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. How does religion contribute to a gap in achievement in formal education?
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mzteris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #9
13. How the brain functions.
One believes in reality. The other is trying to hold simultaneous contradictory in their head at the same time and "believe" it. It's gets tiring and really zaps a lot of brain space that could be put to better use, ya know?
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ZombieHorde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 01:36 PM
Response to Reply #9
14. On average, atheists value education more than Christians.
The more value placed on education by the family, the better the student will do.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-26-11 01:45 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Based on context ...
I'm guessing that your idea is equivalent to the following: "The value that atheists place on education is greater than the value that Christians place on education."

However, based on the sentence structure alone, I think that an alternative parsing would give: "The value that atheists place on education is greater than the value that atheists place on Christians."

;)
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ZombieHorde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-27-11 01:48 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. Yes to your first sentence, and the second sentence is funny. nt
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 11:42 PM
Response to Reply #14
21. Do you think that's true in non-Christian societies?
Edited on Tue Nov-29-11 11:42 PM by Donald Ian Rankin
While that's clearly true in the US, I suspect that it's because people who don't think are likely to follow the mainstream, which in the US is Christian, while people who do are less likely to, and may become atheists; do you know anything about correlation between education and religion in e.g communist Russia?
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dkf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 03:25 PM
Response to Original message
5. This sounds about right.
It must be noted that this demand for excellence is not out of some sadistic desire, but out of a staunch belief that excellence CAN be achieved. Prof. Chua described it well in her book: Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn't get them, the Chinese parent assumes it's because the child didn't work hard enough.

Because excellence is constantly within reach, failure to achieve excellence always reduced to a single reason: laziness. And laziness is the greatest sin for Tiger Mothers.

http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2011/01/tiger-mothers-are-superior-here-is-why.html
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 04:20 PM
Response to Original message
7. Asian parents send their children to school AFTER school.
In any asian area in NYC, the first thing you'll notice is the proliferation of educational sweatshops to prep kids for tests, improve their English, math, give music lessons... There is no time off for these kids.
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RandySF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 05:17 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Our kid also goes to after school.
Being in kindergarten, his workload isn't great. But the older kids do their homework and join various clubs (language, math, science, music).
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LibDemAlways Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-24-11 11:38 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. An Asian friend of my daughter who received a perfect score on her SAT had
spent the entire summer before in SAT prep classes - many hours every day. When I mentioned that she seemed to have no free time to enjoy life, she told me that could wait until she was in college. She had her sights set on the Ivy League and is now at Columbia on a full scholarship.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #10
18. I'm sure she can get less than an A now that she is in college.
:sarcasm:
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 12:09 PM
Response to Reply #7
17. That's sad.
We expect kids to work a full-time job (go to school) and then put in another part-time to full-time job (more school and/or homework) after that. Something is wrong with this picture.
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mzteris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 11:10 AM
Response to Original message
12. the asian language is much more complex -
it requires more "thinking" than Spanish - or English - for that matter. So much has to be inferred from the context of the conversation. One sound can mean dozens of different things. So you have to really listen, pay attention, sort through those "options".

My opinion is that knowing these more complex languages just makes you capable of more complex thinking.

I just had another thought, given that they are more "tonal", where that language center is stored is probably more related to the "music center" of the brain" which affects the "math" center.



FYI- our spanish immersion program has created some of the HIGHER math scores in the school district for both Hispanics and African Americans in the program.
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Tumbulu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 09:14 PM
Response to Reply #12
19. I think that you made such an interesting point
But parental expectation is huge.

My mother was the child of immigrants- she had been awarded a full scholarship to college, but had to turn it down so that she could work a job to put her brothers through college.

All of us worked our way through college out of sheer determination to get what was denied to our mother.

The importance that a family places in education plays a very big role on what the children think that they can and should achieve.

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WildNovember Donating Member (726 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-02-11 04:28 AM
Response to Reply #12
23. That's myth. Not to mention there is no single "Asian" language.
Edited on Fri Dec-02-11 04:41 AM by WildNovember
Children learn all languages equally competently, and on the same timing. Writing is a bit different, but basically the same holds. Kids don't have to "think harder" or "pay more attention" to learn Chinese v. English. And not all Asian languages are tonal, or have the other features you list.

A language complicated (specialised) in one area -- like tones -- will tend to be simple in another (like tenses). Overall, languages are equally complex, and equally simple to learn for children. Adults learning second languages are a different matter.

Plenty needs to be inferred in English (or any other language). You just don't realize it because you're the fish swimming in it.

You may hear "Asians" mindlessly repeating these myths -- that come from mass media best-sellers and trash TV -- (because like any nationalist/racialist myth, they make adherents feel special and superior, same as you hear English speakers repeating myths about the superiority/inferiority of English) but ask any linguist -- they're myths.
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mzteris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #23
27. not the writing is NOT "basically the same"
where pictographic language is stored in the brain is VERY different from where our alphabetic language is stored.

And yes, there is no single "asian language" but (most of) them do have the traits I mentioned in common. Yes you DO have to "think more" and PAY MORE ATTENTION or you won't know wtf the person is talking about about. And if the isn't a "tonal" version, they still have the same "sound" that means about 100 different things based on the CONTEXT

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WildNovember Donating Member (726 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 02:31 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. It occurs in the same developmental window. No asian language has "pictographs".
Edited on Sun Dec-04-11 02:54 PM by WildNovember
If you think so, you've been misinformed.

Most Asian languages don't use hanzi/kanji, which is what you're probably referring to. Chinese, Japanese, and old Korean being the only ones I can think of.

Today Korean uses hangul (phonemic alphabet) almost exclusively except for specialized tasks; Japanese uses a mix of kanji & kana (phonemic alphabet). Chinese use alphabet-like pronunciation gloss as a teaching aid when children learn hanzi.

Chinese characters are not "stored in a special part of the brain". That is popular myth. Chinese characters are not processed/analyzed as "pictures". Few Chinese characters are "pictures" in the way you mean.

No tonal phoneme means "100 different things". That's a myth too.

No, they don't have to pay any more attention than you do speaking your own language. That's what being a native speaker of a language means.
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WildNovember Donating Member (726 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 03:39 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. and Japanese and Korean aren't tonal, either. Nor can one sound
in either represent 100 different things, except in the sense that the latter "a" can represent 100 different things when combined into words.
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mzteris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 07:47 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. not myth
not misinformed.
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WildNovember Donating Member (726 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 11:50 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. You might start by checking what "Asia" entails before you begin such generalizations.
Edited on Tue Dec-06-11 12:46 AM by WildNovember
48 countries. Only Chinese and Japanese use Chinese characters, and Japanese uses them in combination with two syllabic alphabets.

Tone languages:

Most languages of sub-Saharan Africa are tonal. The vast majority of NigerCongo languages, such as Ewe, Igbo, Lingala, Maninka, Yoruba, and the Zulu, have register-tone systems. Possibly all Nilo-Saharan languages have register-tone systems. All Khoisan languages in southern Africa have contour-tone systems.

Some of the native languages of North and South America are tonal, notably many of the Athabaskan languages of Alaska and the American Southwest (including Navajo), and especially the Oto-Manguean languages of Mexico. Among the Mayan languages, Yucatec (with the largest number of speakers), Uspantek, and one dialect of Tzotzil have developed simple tone systems.

Some European languages also have tone systems: Norwegian, Swedish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbo-Croatian, some dialects of Slovene, and Limburgish have simple tone systems generally characterized as pitch accent. Other Indo-European tonal languages, spoken in the Indian subcontinent, are Punjabi, Lahanda, Rabinian and Western Pahari.


As you can see from the (partial) listing of languages which have tonal systems, native language has not a thing to do with why children do well in school. The idea that it does, the idea that some people have to "work harder" to comprehend their native language, is simply exoticism. The reasons some groups of children do better at school than others aren't genetic or linguistic, but sociological.


Before the 1900s many people believed that so-called 'primitive peoples' would have primitive languages, and that Latin and Greek-- or their own languages-- were inherently superior to other tongues.

In fact, however, there is no correlation between type or complexity of culture and any measure of language complexity. Peoples of very simple material culture, such as the Australian Aborigines, are often found to speak very complex languages.

Obviously, the size of the vocabulary and the variety and sophistication of literary forms will depend on the culture. The grammar of all languages, however, tends to be about equally complex-- although the complexity may be found in different places. Latin, for instance, has a much richer system of inflections than English, but a less complicated syntax.

As David Crystal puts it, "All languages meet the social and psychological needs of their speakers, are equally deserving of scientific study, and can provide us with valuable information about human nature and society."

http://www.zompist.com/lang9.html


The idea that one language can be inherently harder than another language is not supported by linguistic research. Were this the case, it would logically follow that children whose mother tongue is hard would develop language skills later than children with easy mother tongues. Studies on this subject have shown that children of all languages develop language competency on average at about the same rate.

http://www.chinese-lessons.com/cantonese/difficulty.htm


Do you have to "think hard" when you chose among "I, me, my, mine or go, went, going, gone, have gone, has gone, had gone" or whether to use "The" or "a" or nothing in front of a noun?

You don't "think" at all. Nothing like this exists in Chinese, but likewise, they don't have to "think" when they hear tones or chose which tone to use with which phoneme.

And FYI, this is a pictograph:





Pictograms and pictographs *represent* themselves. The man IS a man.


This is not a pictograph OR pictogram. It's abstract writing, and unless you are taught, you won't know what it symbolizes. There is no "picture" there.



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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 11:40 PM
Response to Original message
20. Cultural differences, of course - just because you refuse to believe something doesn't mean it isn't
true.

The difference is almost certainly that, for cultural reasons, Asian parents are more likely* to raise their children in ways that result in academic success than Latino ones.

One of the big differences is very likely average* amount of effort the parent invests in their child's education.


*N.B. These statements, if expressed in absolute rather than statistical terms, would be both bigotted and untrue; expressed statistically they're simple common sense. Many Latinos will invest more in their children than many Asians. *Never* forget "on average" "more than 50%", "in distribution" and the like when they're needed.
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WildNovember Donating Member (726 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-02-11 04:31 AM
Response to Reply #20
24. I think the big difference is Asian immigrants to the US are much more likely to have
been urban/middle class or better/schooled in their home countries than US Latinos.

That's the "culture" we're talking about. Not Latinos v. Asians. That "culture" is remarkably similar all over the world. It's international capitalist culture.
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WildNovember Donating Member (726 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-02-11 04:19 AM
Response to Original message
22. Depends. I don't know what kind of "Asian" students live in that district, but
Edited on Fri Dec-02-11 04:25 AM by WildNovember
asians aren't a monolithic group (neither are Latinos, for that matter).

What I found when I researched the question in college was: just because "asians" are poor in the US doesn't mean they were poor in their home countries. A lot of vietnamese refugees, for example, came from middle-class or upper-middle-class, urban backgrounds in Vietnam (and were Catholic, for those saying that the division is between Christian/non-Christian), went to private schools, were political, etc.

So people like that already knew the drill for "success" in the west -- study hard, study something that will make money, get in a "good" school, marry well.

OTOH, groups like the Hmong who were rural, unschooled, tribal in their home country tended not to do well in school and were more liable to stay poor in the US.

Most of the Latino immigrants to the US of the last few decades at least tended to be non-middle class in their home countries -- rural laborers or urban laborers.

Parental involvement is most effective when the parents already know the drill. A young person whose parent can't speak English, doesn't have a middle-class job, can barely read himself can say "Study hard Junior" but the parent can't help the child with the work so much and in the immigrant situation is often perceived by the child as not understanding how things work in the new country, being stupid, being an embarrassment to the child, etc.

Anyway, I think it's an American bias to want to compare huge groups of people by race/ethnicity alone -- "Latinos" v. "Asians" as if everyone in each group shared important things ("culture") that made such comparisons valid. They don't necessarily.

For 'whites' for example, if you separate people out by their background -- English, Irish, Polish, Scots, German etc. -- you can still find clear differences in income/schooling and all the rest of the sociological characteristics generations after they all supposedly melted into the melting pot and became "white". Or so I read in a sociological text in college.
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demicritic Donating Member (25 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 08:00 AM
Response to Original message
26. Born with outstanding abilities
Asian American students mostly experienced extreme poverty and doesn't want to get back from slum life. It's more of a parental involvement, they were simply raised to be great survivors.
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roody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 11:53 PM
Response to Original message
33. literacy in the home which
Edited on Mon Dec-05-11 11:57 PM by roody
reflects the educational level of the parents
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