May 21, 2019

Wealthy students disproportionately receive extra time on standardized tests

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Students in affluent school districts are more likely to be given special accommodations for extra time on tests like the SAT and ACT, according to an analysis from the Wall Street Journal.

Details: Federal data shows that at affluent public schools where no more than 10% of students are eligible for free or reduced-cost school lunches, 4.2% of students have been granted time extensions for test taking known as "504" designations — meant to level the playing field for students with anxiety or ADHD. At schools where 75% or more of the students are eligible for subsidized lunches, only 1.6% have 504 designations.

  • The number of students granted 504 designations more than tripled from 2000 to 2016, according to WSJ's analysis. White students possess 64% of the 504 designations, despite accounting for slightly more than half of school enrollment.
  • Schools make the decision for whether to grant a 504, often with input from a medical professional. But the Journal notes that wealthy parents are more likely to know the option for extra time exists, in addition to having the resources to pay for an outside medical evaluation.

The big picture: Historically, standardized tests like the SAT have favored students from wealthy, more educated families who have had the opportunity to take the PSAT or pay for test prep, according to the Washington Post. WSJ's analysis of extra time accommodations adds another layer to the wealth disparity in standardized test performance.

  • The advantages affluent families hold in the college admissions process has come under fresh scrutiny thanks to Operation Varsity Blues, a massive scandal that has seen dozens of parents prosecuted for a conspiracy to pay to get their children admitted to elite schools.
  • The College Board announced last week that it's introducing an "adversity score" that evaluates socioeconomic and environmental factors so that colleges may choose from a more diverse pool of candidates.

Go deeper: Read the WSJ's full analysis

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America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."