Posted on November 22, 2011

Are Black Students Lacking Basic Skills?

David Driscoll and Doris Hicks, The Grio, November 20, 2011


This month’s reading results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” reveals some progress on student performance by scores and its three achievement levels: Basic, Proficient, and Advanced.

In fourth grade, the percentage of black students at each of those levels was higher in 2011 than in 1992. And for eighth grade, black students had higher percentages at Basic and Proficient over this same time period. At both grades, reading scores were higher in 2011 than in 2009 for black, white, and Hispanic students.

However, there is an alarming fact seen in NAEP reading: 51 percent of black fourth-graders and 41 percent of black eighth-graders fall below Basic, which indicates partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at each grade level. How can any student reading below a Basic level–regardless of race or ethnicity–be prepared to learn in other subjects?

Across the country, the achievement gap between white students and black students persists. On NAEP reading in both grades, that gap is 25 points. It’s a reduction compared to what we saw in 1992, but that’s not much of a victory.


23 responses to “Are Black Students Lacking Basic Skills?”

  1. chuck says:

    Stupid and lazy parents sire stupid and lazy children…just look at the home to see what the student will be like. Sometimes I wonder can a person be anymore stupid than some of these blacks who will never work or be productive. Society fails when they become too numerous.

  2. john says:

    How long can our educational system, our government, indeed, our entire society, pretend to be baffled by the lack of black achievement? I say pretend because everybody involved knows the reason but fears saying it.

    It’s remarkable how a free society can be effectively muzzled by a forbidden topic.

  3. Seek says:

    The phrase “achievement gap” is a misnomer. In reality, it is the intelligence gap that explains interracial differences in outcomes.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Basic, Proficient and Advanced. Sounds like three points that could begin to make up a bell curve. Tantlizingly close. And what would happen if, when corrected for economic levels, it was found that the differing distirbutions by race and ethnity still existed? We are not helping those with lesser abilities by indicating they are capable of great things. To do so only leads to frustration and attitude problems. Perhaps there should be schools to teach more basic skills, including socially acceptable behaviors.

    Germany has a two track system, some go to University others to trade schools. Germany’s trademen are the best in the world.

  5. Cliff Yablonski says:

    Their basic reading skills are lacking?

    Their basic SPEAKING skills are the start of the problem. I’ve seen a lot of elementary school blacks that barely have 100 word vocabularies, with half those words involving some kind of profanity or threat.

  6. Sincerely Concerned says:

    For one thing, without being expected to accept discipline, how can anyone learn something? If you wanted to learn, for example, how to build a kite, you would have to sit patiently and watch someone show you or you would need to read a book about it. Then, you would need to practice building one.

    The problem here is desire. Sometimes it seems that these kids simply don’t wish to learn. It’s an idea that is difficult to grasp by a person who, say, was brought up being read to and who was given material ranging from simple Peter Pan record-storybooks all the way up to the Brothers Grimm between the ages of 3 and 8.

    When I was a kid, there were book vans that toured all over town and constant PSAs on television: R.I.F. Reading is fundamental. Did that discontinue? What am I missing here?

  7. Anonymous says:

    “How can any student reading below a Basic level—regardless of race or ethnicity—be prepared to learn in other subjects”?

    They can learn by the visual method by computer and ipod. And be evaluated by ‘interview’. Say, hasn’t that already begun?

  8. anonymous says:

    Maybe ‘basic’ for blacks is more basic than it is for others.

    ’nuff said!

  9. ice says:

    “Across the country, the achievement gap between white students and black students persists.”

    Here it is again.

    All they insist on comparing are black and white students. Why don’t they compare black/Hispanic student scores? I mean, Hispanics are the largest minority population in this country, not blacks, yet they’re rarely reported on. All we hear about are blacks compared to whites.

    Why not compare white/Hispanic?

    Better yet, why not compare black/Hispanic, because blacks are behind Hispanics also, not just whites. In fact, blacks are beind every group in the country.

    Why not report on the differences in test scores between blacks and North Asians? Or blacks and Middle Easterners? Or, how about blacks and Asian Indians?

    Are they afraid if they make other comparisons people will realize that blacks are in last place with everybody?

  10. Bon, From the Land of Babble says:

    51 percent of black fourth-graders and 41 percent of black eighth-graders fall below Basic, which indicates partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work.

    Reading comprehension involves far more than just decoding words on a page; it requires an ability to infer, deduce, interpret and apply what one has read.

    This is exactly where those on the left side of the Bell Curve struggle; they do not have sufficient aptitude (or IQ) to extrapolate meaning from written information.

    Or as Charles Murray puts it in Real Education:

    The skills that the child must master do not involved learning words or the mechanics of reading, but putting two and two together in novel settings. Drilling in vocabulary does not help. Diagramming sentences does not help.

    Professor Jensen writes in The g Factor that illiteracy is a function of low g, not of somehow not learning how to read. Most illiterates do no better on reading comprehension tests when the selections are read to them than when they try to do the reading themselves.

    How can any student reading below a Basic level—regardless of race or ethnicity—be prepared to learn in other subjects?

    They can’t and no one should expect them to.


  11. Jim says:

    Lyndon Johnson and Ted Kennedy, two of the slickest racists who ever lived. ” Keeping blacks stupid since 1965″!

  12. Jack Krak says:

    Black kids are missing a lot more than “basic skills”. I would add “basic civility”, “basic self control”, “basic command of the English languge”, “basic respect for established social norms” and a few others.

  13. James says:

    Reading must strictly be a “white” accomplishment which blacks can never hope to master. The deck is clearly stacked against them.

    Perhaps more cities across the nation should consider spending millions of dollars on building new schools to focus on “afro-centric” studies so that blacks can have A’s on their report cards, too.

    There could be health classes that focus on witch-doctory and the birthing of many children; music classes that focus on ritualistic drum beating; even vocational ed that teaches young blacks to build huts (or ask if you’d like fries with that number seven).

  14. MAJ says:

    No, black students are not lacking basic skills.

    They are lacking in genetics that lead to basic intelligence.

    Okay, so most blacks are vastly inferior intellectually compared to whites and cannot function in a white society. By now, this is obvious and common knowledge even to whites who cannot bring themselves to address the issue head-on.

    Until blacks are segregated from whites and treated in accordance with their abilities we are doomed as a society. How did this happen and who let it continue? They are true destroyers of America.

    As the money (and the patience) runs out for black welfare expect a harsh fallout. I suspect that in the end black society will implode upon itself in an orgy and violence and mayhem as whites circle the wagons and watch.

    It will be an ugly cleansing.

  15. Detroit WASP says:

    I have a masters in education.

    Detroit schools are 99% black and they spend more per student than ALL (I mean ALL) the white suburban districts, rich and poor.

    Last I checked, Detroit was spending about $11,500 per student. A rich white suburb called Grosse Pointe was spending $11,200.

    Grosse Pointe has about 85% of students working at grade level and Detroit has about 15% at grade level. 33% of the black males of Detroit go to prison. The problem is so bad that the city of Detroit no longer asks “are you a felon” on their job applications.

    This country is headed to a very bad place. We need a natural disaster like Katrina to wake people up.

  16. Bon, From the Land of Babble says:

    The problem here is desire.

    The problem is IQ.



  17. Anonymous says:

    If mandatory schooling laws could require Blacks to enter school at least a year older than whites–a significant extent of Black failure might be averted.

  18. rjp says:

    James – you forgot:

    Advanced African Weaponry (spear chucking)

    Social Media Skills (flash mobbing)

    Barbering, Weaving, and Nail (because)

  19. Ciccio says:

    #17 One of the very worst ideas I have ever heard unless you also segregate the schools by race. Those poor five year old whites will not have a snowball’s chance in hell against the six year old blacks.

  20. ProudtobeWhite says:

    James, the sad truth is that even if you had all-black schools with nothing but Afro-centric courses taught by black teachers, black students would still do poorly because they lack discipline and self-control. They have a short attention span, and are more physical than mental. They would rather shoot hoops than hit the books. They cannot or will not see the big picture that learning gets them ahead in life. As long as getting an education is seen as “acting White,” blacks will always lag behing in achievement and be nothing more than the White Man’s Burden.

  21. ATBOTL says:

    Lyndon Johnson and Ted Kennedy, two of the slickest racists who ever lived. ” Keeping blacks stupid since 1965”!


    This kind of argument — that liberals are the “real racists” — only hurts our cause. Firstly, it accepts the liberal paradigm of “racism” and the idea that helping blacks is the number one priority. Secondly, it implies that blacks could perform as well as whites if only liberals didn’t screw everything up, which is false.

    We need to state openly that the educational gap is caused by an innate intelligence gap.

  22. Question Diversity says:

    11 Jim wrote:

    Lyndon Johnson and Ted Kennedy, two of the slickest racists who ever lived. ” Keeping blacks stupid since 1965”!

    And what excuse to blacks have in countries where Lyndon Johnson and Ted Kennedy never held power? LBJ died in 1973, TK in 2009. By that logic, blacks should be on the vestibule of an intellectual renaissance. By the end of this decade, they’ll be on their way to Mars, I’m sure.

  23. on the lam from the Thought Police says:

    The amazing thing is that blacks are able to learn to read and do simple arithmetic at all. Urban living breeds people for superior intelligence. Whites have been living in cities for five thousand years. Initially, even among whites, only the most intelligent could read and write. They were the ones who survived and reproduced. We are descended from them.

    Blacks in the United States are descended from the Bantu of Africa. When whites were beginning to build cities the Bantu were still stone age hunters. Their descendants only began to live in cities during the last century. Urban areas where blacks live are not known for civilized behavior.