9th February 2014
Some people are better than others? Burn the witch!
As it happens, Canada is an excellent laboratory for the authors’ theories. And the Toronto District School Board, with its 250,000 students – one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world – offers the perfect natural experiment. The TDSB conducts detailed demographic analyses of its students and their performance. The data strongly confirm the group differences described in The Triple Package. (My thanks to education consultant Paul Bennett, whose excellent blog, Educhatter, led me to this trove of information.)
The first surprise in these data – for those who haven’t hung around a Toronto schoolyard lately – is that only 29 per cent of the TDSB’s students are white. The next largest ethnic groups are South Asian (24 per cent), East Asian (15 per cent), and black (12 per cent). About three-quarters of the kids were born in Canada, but only a fifth of the students have two Canadian-born parents. More than two-thirds are from immigrant families with both parents born outside Canada.
The second surprise is that there is almost no link between academic success and family income among immigrant groups. More than half of all East Asian students (Chinese, Hong Kong and Korean) come from families that make less than $50,000 a year. But they blow the other kids away. Between 85 per cent and 89 per cent of them score at levels 3 and 4 in Grade 6 math. The school board average is just 60 per cent. Most South Asian students do well too, even though 70 per cent of them come from homes with incomes of less than $50,000 a year.