I have just recieved information on work done by Thomas Mortenson, a
Senior Scholar at the Center for the Study of Opportunity in Higher
Education in Washington, DC. I believe that although it deals with what
is happening with males and college graduation, it directly relates to
the issue of equity in high schools and the accountability and assessment
The Changing Gender Balance: An Overview
is aimed at beginning a national dialogue on the
future of the male gender. In this overview, Thomas has done a study on
the progress of women throughout the educational system, however, in his
study of women, while women made steady increase, he noticed a steady
trend in the decline of males entering and completing the bachelor
degree. I will just review a few of his findings for our discussion.
1970 to 1997, there has been a decline in the proportion of degrees
awarded to males from 56.9 percent in 1970 to 44.4 percent in 1997.
1970 a shift has occurred in all 50 states. In 1970 a majority of
bachelor's degrees were awarded to males in all states including DC. By
1997 a majority went to males in only one state, Utah. Next five states,
all western states were often Mormon like Utah. The gender shift between
1970 and 1997 was greatest in New Hampshire, New Mexico and Alaska.
Race and Ethnicity: From 1977 to 1997
Non-Hispanic whites: 54.2 to 44.7 Crossover occurred about 1980.
Hispanic: 55.0 to 42.1 percent. Crossover about 1980
African-American: 42.9 to 35.6 percent.
Asian: 55.4 to 47.2 percent. Crossover about 1991.
Male shares of bachelors degrees has shrunk sharply in all fields of
study that were predominantly male in 1970.
Family income: Chance for college (product of high school graduate rate
and college participation rates for those who graduate from high school)
is less for males than females at all family income levels, but greatest
for those from family incomes below about $20,000 per year.
How does this relate to our discussion on assessment?
As we all know, the demographics of this country has changed dramatically
over the past 30 or so years. The United States, and especially urban
communities that were once Black and White are now extremely
multicultural and diverse. Immigration larger than ever in the history
of this country. Overwhelming numbers of these immigrants are non-white.
Several states have a majority of non-white school-age children
enrolled. This means that our schools are populated by more minorities
than in the past. By the middle of the century, our society will have a
larger number of Latinos than any other ethnic group. The next largest
group will be African-American. White school-age population will diminish
considerably according to statistics.
At the same time the African American male population and a growing
number of Latio males make up a majority of the prison enrollment. These
numbers are also increasing with the increased numbers of minority women
being sent to prison.
Keeping these factors in mind, it is easy to see that the complexion of
the schools is changing, especially the student body. As the numbers of
minority students increase, the percentage afforded a college education
decreases. Although historically, we have focused on equity in education
for traditionally excluded groups through Title IX, the Bilingual
Education Act, Title IV and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, we have
continued to broaden the barriers through in-school isolation, for
specific ethnic and racial groups through tracking, special education,
racial isolation and non-career degree programs.
Now, we are in a standards and assessment era where the focus has been
shifted from "blaming the victim" to blaming the institution. We now have
failing schools instead of failing students and failing parents.
Businesses and a global economy has forced us as educators to try to look
at the poor quality of our educational system and its impact on students.
Education has become an economic issue. Since A Nation at Risk,
has become the national solution. However, standards and
alternative assessment does not stand alone. We have increased
requirements for high school graduation, increased course requirements,
expanded testing tremendously, incorporated High-stakes testing making it
even more difficult to finish high school -- all of which will work only
if we transform our collective thinking about students in the classrooms
to the same quality of thought we have for students when the classrooms
were less diverse and more representative of the suburban majority
cultures. Without extremely highly qualified teachers who know how to
relate to diverse populations, standards and assessment will not work.
Kathleen Rigsby stated it well when she spoke of the different type of
instruction that goes on for different students, clearly based on whose
child is being taught. The difference is that because of the complexity
of society, we are simply engaging more students inadequately. We are
improving with girls because there has been a national focus on girls
achieving in various careers. However, our expectations for minority
students, especially males still fall short. Therefore, they are not
prepared for High stakes assessments, thereby, not afforded a high school
or college education.
Joan O. Dawson
FAt 05:08 PM 3/2/00 -0500, you wrote:
>Thanks for the Wisoconsin information. It leads me to ask the
following question: Is there any state or any research that looks at the
gender breakdown within each racial, ethnic, language, socioeconomic group?
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