Posted on December 19, 2011

‘Alarming’ New Test-Score Gap Discovered in Seattle Schools

Brian M. Rosenthal, Seattle Times, December 18, 2011

African-American students whose primary language is English perform significantly worse in math and reading than black students who speak another language at home–typically immigrants or refugees–according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools.

District officials, who presented the finding at a recent community meeting at Rainier Beach High School, noted the results come with caveats, but called the potential trend troubling and pledged to study what might be causing it.

Michael Tolley, an executive director overseeing Southeast Seattle schools, said at the meeting that the data exposed a new achievement gap that is “extremely, extremely alarming.”


In fact, some national experts said the trend represented by the Seattle data is not surprising. They pointed to some studies about college attendance and achievement indicating that immigrant families from all backgrounds tend to put a larger emphasis on education than those families that have been in the country longer.

Traditional factors in low performance, such as poverty and single-parent homes, are generally shared by black immigrants and nonimmigrants alike.


Mark Teoh, the district’s data manager, said he has been wanting to break down student-achievement data this way for years.


The results, although preliminary, were eye-opening:

• Only 36 percent of black students who speak English at home passed their grade’s math test, while 47 percent of Somali-speaking students passed. Other black ethnic groups did even better, although still lower than the district average of 70 percent.

• In reading, 56 percent of black students who speak English passed, while 67 percent of Somali-speaking students passed. Again, other black ethnic groups did better, though still lower than the district average of 78 percent.

The numbers do have significant limitations, Teoh said. That’s because they are based on home-language information that is entirely self-reported, and the data exclude English Language Learners–an optional program for students who score poorly on an English proficiency test.


Many of those [immigrant] families, who often were relatively wealthy and well-educated in their home countries, have strong social-support systems that emphasize education, said Mike Petrilli, the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Pamela Bennett, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, agreed. She conducted a study in 2009 that found that immigrant black high-school graduates attend college at a much higher rate than black or white students born in the U.S. The reason was that the immigrants had a higher socioeconomic background, she said.

But that explanation may falter when Seattle’s Somali population is considered.

Many of the Somalis, after all, did not follow a normal pattern of immigration. Their families came to the U.S. to escape their war-torn country, many by way of refugee camps. But they still did better than English-speaking African Americans on the tests.

Veronica Gallardo, the director of international programs for Seattle Public Schools, speculated that the trauma experienced by Somali families causes them to value the opportunity education provides. In addition, Somali community groups tend to prioritize education, said Alexandra Blum, who works with the Somali Community Services Coalition, a nonprofit that works to empower families in King County.


Another board member, Marty McLaren, has a different theory.

McLaren, a former teacher, believes that black students whose families have been in the U.S. for generations often perform poorly because schools and general societal structures have imposed a culture of low expectations on them dating back to the days of slavery.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said of the trend, which she classified as institutionalized racism. “I’ve had many of those students. They’re bright and they’re wonderful. And they’re discouraged.”


29 responses to “‘Alarming’ New Test-Score Gap Discovered in Seattle Schools”

  1. HH says:

    You can already hear the usual-suspects ready to bellow, “see, we told you it wasn’t genetic…race doesn’t exist…blah, blah, blah.” Alas, that would be but a nakedly deceitful reading of this article, though wouldn’t it? It is no secret that American blacks, or “African-Americans” if you prefer, actually COULD do better than they do academically. Can they close or eliminate the infamous “achievement gap” though? Of course not! The fact is, nearly all American students lag, embarrassingly behind the rest of the civilized world. Whites, too could achieve much more academically, but our rotten culture and the hopelessly flawed public-education system make certain that doesn’t happen.

    But back to the main point. Yes, American blacks could do better academically. For heavens’ sake, many make NO effort at all – so how could they not do better, if they at least tried? Their anti-intellectual “culture” essentially demands failure…and with thier genetic challenges already placing them easily at the back of the human pack, that is a formula for complete disaster.

    In summary, it is no surprise that African immigrants would do better – but all that glitters isn’t gold either. Give them a little time amidst their American cousins, and we will see what happens.

  2. Crystal L Evans says:

    I have heard complaints from American Blacks that their affirmative action places have often been taken by Africans and students from the Caribbean who have higher test scores and grades.

  3. Ciccio says:

    The Somalis are not Bantu, all the ones I have seen over here are mixed Arab/Bantu. As for other African immigrants, the cost of a plane ticket is a lifetime savings for the average African family, the olny ones who immigrate are the educated ones who have a culture of learning at home.

    Who is going to send me my $20,000 cheque for this important study?

  4. Question Diversity says:

    I think this gap between immigrant blacks and domestic blacks can almost entirely be explained by the fact that immigrant blacks tend to be somewhat more ambitious and intelligent than the native blacks of the countries they left. Any blacks with any kind of “get up and go” is going to “get up and leave” Africa if they have some place to go.

    That does not mean that if all of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Somalia moved to Seattle, that this immigrant black over domestic black achievement gap would remain.

  5. T.S. says:

    Black immigrant students do well (compared with their black American peers)because there is often a father in the home and there is a greater emphasis placed on education. Family stability (lack of a chaotic environment) is essential to proper, healthy child development. Trauma and instability is not uncommon in many African-American homes, and there is no push towards intellectual achievement. Also, many of these black immigrants are deeply religious (Islam in the case of the Somalis), and this encourages a rejection of worldly, corrupting material goods and activities.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Those darn racist and oppressive Somali’s and Vietnamese!

  7. Anonymous says:

    How about the real reason is racial genetics? Is it really fair to use tax money to support a system based on delusions about black inability to compete? The post traumatic syndrome could not be used for the Somali because they somehow did better than the blacks born here. But the slavery issue, the old stand-by excuse for everything under the sun is used for low achieving blacks born here. Based on the Somali facial features, it appears they have more white mixing in centuries past which a higher gene pool.

  8. Rhialto says:

    Two ignored questions occur to me:

    1-What is the average IQ of each of the groups being studied?

    2-Why are Africans being imported into the U.S.?

  9. Anonymous says:

    African-Americans are just plain bone lazy, uninterested in education, or getting a job involving honest work of any kind, or even making a pretense of doing so beyond the age of about 12. This goes for girls as well as boys. Ask a group of expectant mothers with an average age of 15, what they want to do with their lives after their baby is born. You will get answers like “I want to be a doctor” or “I want to be a social worker”. Fat chance.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “The results, although preliminary, were eye-opening:”

    I doubt it. The old definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

  11. Jack Krak says:

    The simple answer to this “extremely, extremely alarming” situation is that American blacks not only have the short end of the genetic stick – they share that with the other blacks – but they combine it with a truly awful domestic black culture that immigrant blacks aren’t brought up with. Like #10 said above, American blacks have zero interest in education, zero interest in learning something for learning’s sake, zero interest in any real work beyond typical street hustling and zero ambition to do anything with themselves.

    Years ago I worked in a government office and I met any number of Carribean blacks, Nigerians and even Haitians who at least had the marks of a civilized upbringing. They could dress appropriately for a situation, change the register of their language to suit the formality of the circumstance, form clear and coherent sentences and generally conduct themselves in a way that is beyond the capabilities of 99% of American blacks. I know for a fact that many, perhaps most, black immigrants to the US find the “culture” of American blacks to be shocking.

  12. Integration Anxiety says:

    Yes, to the poster who mentioned Somali facial structures. Many books about the history of Africa & The Middle East will tell this exact story of European and Arab mixed genes in the Somali and Ethiopian populations. And to some extent, Sudan,and Kenya. The Horn of Africa was a major trade route for the middle ages and the voyagers from parts of Europe and North Africa/Middle East. So alot of miscegenation took place for centuries throughout that part of the dark continent.

    Many Somalis may claim superiority to other African blacks because of more desirable facial features, but the brutality of extreme Islam unconvers the truth about many of these people. The pirates that we all read about from the Indian Ocean seem to be smarter than millionaire Westerners who continued to sail through that part of the world, thinking they would be immune to the seajacking over there. That doesn’t make us Whites look too savvy.

  13. Tim Heydon says:

    In his book, ‘Race’ (Foundation for Human Understanding,Athens Georgia 1981)the Oxford biologist John R Baker classifies the ‘Aethiopids’or Eastern Hamites of Ethiopia and Somaliland as essentially a europid sub-race with some negrid admixture.

    Typically these are slender people of medium stature, dolicho- or mesocranial; the face more or less the Europid form, with narrow,prominent nose. There is no prognathism.

    Various parts of the body give evidence of negrid influence. The skin is reddish or blackish brown. The ears are rather small. Both upper and lower lips are thicker than in typical Europids but not much everted; the hair is is variable in texture, etc etc etc.

    In her book ‘Infidel’ the Somali Aayan Hirsi Ali makes it clear that Somali people consider themselves distinct from Negrids.

  14. Gary says:

    African-American pop culture effectively erodes more worthy human virtues in blacks, thus molding a majority of multi-generational African-Americans into habitually distracted shallow and selfish juveniles, not only during school-age, but far into their “mature” years as well.

    This is the darkside of our empty-headed national media propaganda which mindlessly celebrates and equivocates good with lowness in our “culture.”

  15. Dewey says:

    “Many of the Somalis, after all, did not follow a normal pattern of immigration. Their families came to the U.S. to escape their war-torn country, many by way of refugee camps. But they still did better than English-speaking African Americans on the tests.”

    Somalis are the Nordics of Africa.

    Somalis may be violent in their homeland, but they have great potential. The Europeans fought violent wars amongst themselves in Germany and Sweden, and eventually rose up in quality and has less iinternecine warfare.

    I shall find the source again, but I have read that given the chance, the Somalis would have overrun and controlled Eastern Africa. They are already infiltrating the Kenyan economy, achieving dominance over the other races. The arrival of the more developed Europeans halted the Somali dominance, cornering them with all their energy in the resource-poor bottle of the Horn of Africa.

    I live in Minneapolis, and see the Somali community rising up. They are race realists, and know that the Nordics are superior in many ways. However, they have a narrow-minded drive that is very similar to Nordics, and Islam keeps them behaving well. Even their tall bodies, with tall narrow heads and penetrating eyes gives them a Nordic caste. Over time, they may regain race consciousness and practice positive eugenics of their own kind.

    Somalis are actually not mixed much with Arab, they are more like the indegenous population of that part of Africa. They are extremely homogenous, a very separate race from all other Africans.

    Does anyone else have thoughts on Somalis?

  16. Laager says:

    @ No4

    “Any blacks with any kind of “get up and go” is going to “get up and leave” Africa if they have some place to go.”

    The real tragedy is that there is no reason to leave.

    Africa is not poor.

    It has every God given resource it needs to be a global superpower


    the intellectual capacity to run a successful western style technology intensive capitalist democracy.

    Its all about I, me, Mr Big, warlords, who grab the power, hang on to it at any cost and treat the national assets as their personal piggy bank.

    This forces their people to immigrate thus exporting their losing ways to the developed world and dragging it down to the lowest African common denominator.

    When are all the highly educated liberals residing in their academic ivory towers in the west going to wake up and see this?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Very anecdotal, but two observations. First, back in the 1970s I lived in a neighborhood where there were a lot of “Islanders”, I guess like Bahamas etc, from the Caribbean area. I did not interact much with them, but they seemed pretty civilized. No police, or dirty yards, or people hanging around. The neighborhood nearby was American Blacks and dirt, danger and drugs.

    I also used for a while a college library for my research. In the library I saw a lot of very diligent students of color who, In my estimation were not American Blacks. The article here seems to point to the Arab/Black mix; I cannot comment on this, but there is something about a lot of non American type blacks that seems to lead toward a more studious and ambitious outcome.

  18. Anonymous says:

    What is the excuse for the whites who don’t do well.

  19. Strider says:

    Integration Anxiety (#13) said: The pirates that we all read about from the Indian Ocean seem to be smarter than millionaire Westerners who continued to sail through that part of the world, thinking they would be immune to the seajacking over there. That doesn’t make us Whites look too savvy.

    Don’t forget we’re now saddled with a dumbed-down, affirmative-action navy under a black commander-in-chief. Making matters worse is the PC mindset that (until recently) prohibited the crewmen on those merchant ships from carrying any weapons. Armed idiots tend to carry the day against unarmed geniuses, which explains the Obama regime’s stealth jihad against the 2nd Amendment.

  20. Luke says:

    Possibly good news. What this news could mean is that when the day arrives where the blacks in America who are the descendents of the original African slaves are returned to their natural habitat, i.e., Africa – that at least the black leadership of their new residences will be moderately smart enough to do simple 8th grade math.

  21. rechill says:

    Could be the effects of that reverse eugenics program called welfare which, since 1965, has encouraged unlimited breeding of the lowest IQ blacks. If you are borderline retarded in Somalia, your existence and progeny are not subsidized. Just simple human being husbandry. That’s all. Nothing personal or hateful.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I am quite certain that white East Europeans who have immigrated to the US do better academically than white Americans too.

    They had not been dumbed down by the football-thug-worshipping US educational system.

    In the US, what we are seeing is a kind of Flynn effect in reverse.

  23. Anonymous says:

    These immigrants come from a place where they have to work harder and think harder to survive, with no white protectors to give them everything on a silver platter (this is Somalia we’re talking about, not Zimbabwe or South Africa). No wonder they out-perform their American cousins.

    I’m waiting for the true study, the one that focuses on the children of said immigrants. I guarantee you anything that with exposure to the blatant “hate-YT” culture out there, they’ll degenerate and join the rest of the black American masses in underperforming.

  24. Lorin says:

    When you are told from the moment of your birth until the day you die that all of your shortcomings are the white people’s fault and that it their responsibility to clothe, feed, house, provide medical and dental; what is the incentive to even try to get ahead.

    Further; should you decide to go to work then it’s affirmative action, set asides, quotas and all the other government mandated programs that guarantee that you will succeed.

    The “white guilt trip train to success” is a guaranteed passage to a good life.

  25. Sincerely Concerned says:

    There are no fewer than 13 young black people from ages 1 to 12 living next door to me. I have also counted two or three people of the next generation who I estimate to be about 18 to 32. The younger ones are the grandchildren of a woman whose name is on the lease.

    These kids seem to be rarely in school but the younger ones speak completely without any “ghetto” accent. Yet, the older each child grows, the worse their language and grammar becomes. Schools are trying to correctly educate black children but their ebonics-speaking parents/elder housemates negate those efforts.

    For years I’ve heard that American blacks often prefer to speak incorrect English because it makes them part of a separate group, distinct from the evil whites or suburbanites. Sadly, it also keeps them out of better jobs and stifles opportunities they might otherwise receive. That said, like other commenters have pointed out, they don’t have goals of achieving better positions in life, so why try? The Nanny State will just keep handing out what they need to get by and hustling will get them their TVs, wheels, and iPhones. Our welfare system actually created these low-scoring students and low-achieving adults. Sad.

  26. Anonymous says:

    You must also remember that American blacks that are descended from slaves were the absolute dumbest, poorest in Africa! Most slave traders in Africa were BLACK and they captured the lowest of the low to sell for slaves, after all which are you going to try and trap, the stronger more intelligent or the stupid ones who will walk into a cage for a piece of free fruit and never look around at the bars and spring hinge doors. Of course American blacks do worse in school because the smart blacks didn’t get trapped and sold.

  27. Big Bill says:

    The Somalis enslaved dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks Bantu for generation after generation. They see American blacks as nothing more than another bunch of Bantu slaves. And they HATE Bantus. So here we have the bizarre result of smart slave master Somalis being given Affirmative Action slots as “blacks”, when in fact they are the oppressors of “blacks”!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I would like to know how the Somalis compare with whites and Orientals in the United States.