Today’s story on the pre-college sorting out test called the ACT is mixed and unsurprising for Duluth.

Our average grades are up a fraction on the one hand but the gap between majority and minority students remains grave. This paragraph puzzled me:

Very few of the district’s black and Native American students, for example, took the ACT. Nearly 9 percent of the district’s enrollment is black, so about 70 of those students would be expected to take the test if participation mirrored demographics, Lake said. Only 13 students did with an average score of 18.8. Nearly 7 percent of district enrollment is Native American, meaning 26 of those students might be expected to take the test. Fewer than 10 took it, also meaning results can’t be shared. Another 17 students who identified with two races scored an average of 21.9.

The puzzler is the statistical extrapolation of how many black and native students should have been expected to take the test. If 9% of our students are black and almost 7% Native I can not understand why, according to the middle sentences, 70 black students but only 26 Native Americans would be expected to take the test. Those numbers suggest that there are over twice as many black students as Native students in the Duluth Schools – not a mere 2% difference. One answer may be that more Native kids drop out by their junior year when the ACT tests are taken so that their numbers don’t reflect the average enrollment percentage of “Nearly 7 percent.” If so, that is troubling and good reason to consider electing Renee Van Nett to the School Board since she knows a thing or two about the miserable experience of Native students in the Duluth schools.

The test for Renee is whether she is up to the challenge. I have my doubts.

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