TN Principal Says Standardized Scores Show Black Students Appear “Less Smart”

As a result, parents are furious that a principal could make such remarks. 

Posted: 01/17/2012 03:39 PM EST
income gap, disparities, racism, racial profiling, discrimination, racial disparities, education

Is racism still alive at a high school in Tennessee? Some recent comments by a school principal have many Black students and parents upset.

Recently at Germantown High School principal Ted Horrell informed his students of how well they performed on a state standardized test. In addition to reporting the scores, however, he also distinguished which races did poorer than others.

During the presentation, Horrell pointed out data that showed Black students appeared “less smart” than whites. According to student accounts, he used statistics, broken down by race, to show how students compare in the school. He went on to mention that there is no reason for the differences in numbers based on race and income, and that all students should be performing at the same level.

Deborah Cannon, who has an African-American daughter who attends the school, was shocked when she heard what happened.  

“When my daughter came home from school she was very upset,” Cannon told a local news station. “She felt he presented this information to reflect that the African-American students were the reason the scores were down."

Despite the backlash, the principle didn’t see that he did anything wrong.

"The intention was not to offend, embarrass, or to upset any of the students," said Horrell.

It’s no secret that historically, minority students have performed lower on standardized tests.

A 2011 federal education study found that the achievement gap between Black and white students in Washington D.C. is twice the average gap in other cities. Additionally, a Stanford University study found that African-American students perform poorly on standardized tests because they fear that incorrect answers will confirm negative stereotypes about their race.

The question here, however, isn’t if the minorities at the Tennessee school actually did worse than the other students, but if it was appropriate for him to share the results with the student body.

What do you think?

In response, Horrell has since apologized to parents.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Tami Chappell)