Term Paper: Black-White Achievement Gap

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[. . .] But, again, reversing within his own findings, he says, Over time, attitudes and behaviors can affect achievement, but achievement can also affect attitudes and behaviors, in a process of cumulative causation." (Ferguson, 2001)

Some possible solutions

One would have to consider the fact that teachers could be involved in the 'engagement' problem, for instance, if the teachers are substandard. "Studies show that students in schools with high minority enrollments tend to have teachers who are less qualified than their counterparts elsewhere. (Ferguson, 2001) But that is not the entire story, needless to say. A Tennessee statewide experiment proved that even well trained teachers need manageable class sizes. In the 1980, Tennessee set about reducing class sizes and "researchers were pleasantly surprised to learn that while all students learned more in classes of 13 to 17 students, the benefits were greatest for minority students. After kindergarten, the gains black students made in smaller classes were typically twice as large as those for whites." (Ferguson, 2001)

Other positive factors

Other researchers have found that "An intense focus on early literacy, quarterly assessments, and a district wide core curriculum also have helped push test scores of African-American students up." (Viadero and Johnston, 2000) And another strategy that works is 'making it cool to be smart.' "On the national level, the National Urban League two years ago created the Thurgood Marshall Achievers, an honor society for black students, male and female, in grades 3-11."

In 1994, Texas began a statewide accountability system requiring schools to go beyond raising students' overall average scores on state exams. "The schools have to show separately that the average scores of their white, Hispanic, and African-American students are all increasing. If not, schools face the threat of a state takeover." (Viadero and Johnston, 2000) The results: percentages of black and Hispanic students who pass state exams grew by 31 and 29% respectively in a five-year period, while the white increase was only 18%.

The Texas experiment led some commentators to conclude that it wasn't a matter of parents not wanting their children to get an education, but rather a sort of shyness; parents of minority students often need coaxing to get involved in the schooling of their children. Education professor Pedro Noguera "argues that low-income parents, especially those from immigrant families, need information in a friendly, trusting atmosphere. Teachers can also help parents by providing clear instructions on what to do with their children, from practicing vocabulary lists to reading certain passages." (Viadero and Johnston, 2000) After school programs have also proven useful; "Community-based programs seeking to mentor African-American males should consider meeting with and becoming a part of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs." (Fashola, 2003)

Annotated Bibliography

Anderson, E.S., & Keith, T.Z. (1997). A Longitudinal Test of a Model of Academic Success for At-Risk High School Students. The Journal of Educational Research, 90(5), 259.

This study involved at-risk students deficiencies and academic success. Longitudinal date from 8,100 high school students was assessed and indications were that ability, quality of schooling, student motivation, and academic coursework are important predictors of academic achievement. "Although the present findings indicate that student motivation may have a stronger impact on at-risk students' achievement than on the achievement of high school students in general, overall school learning influences appear very similar to those found for high school students in general."

Bracey, G.W. (2003). The 13th Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Phi Delta Kappan, 85(2), 148.

This was an interesting article, based on the fact that researchers had found that "the 3-year-old children of professional mothers have larger working vocabularies than 'welfare mothers' of 3-year-olds."

The research involved linguists and other professionals who tried to ascertain why this might be so. Although research showed that mothers use only about 2,000 words in that setting, and it was ridiculous to equate that with her vocabulary, still there was something suggestive about the uses of language and bearing on later achievement.

Cokley, K.O., & Helm, K. (2001). Testing the Construct Validity of Scores on the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 34(2), 80.

Results of testing the validity of test scores on the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity included item analysis was performed to identify problematic items. Implications for racial identity research are discussed. This was undertaken to aid in therapeutic alliances, but the linkage to careers assessment and self-esteem issues was included.

Fuchs, D., & Fuchs, L.S. (1989). Effects of Examiner Familiarity on Black, Caucasian, and Hispanic Children: A Meta-Analysis. Exceptional Children, 55(4), 303+.

This study assessed examiner familiarity effects on white and minority student test performance. Fourteen controlled studies were done. The basis of this was the identification of minority students as handicapped in grater proportion than white students.

Garcia, N., & Fleming, J. (1998). Are Standardized Tests Fair to African-Americans? Journal of Higher Education, 69(5), 471+.

This dealt with the possibility that test scores predicting college achievement were more valid if the students attended an all-black college than if they attended a mixed school.

Humphreys, L.G. (1994). Intelligence from the Standpoint of a (Pragmatic) Behaviorist. Psychological Inquiry, 5(3), 179-192.

This study was made to develop a theory about how various factors in testing intellectual ability work together to allow predictions of achievement. It assumed that there would be both genetic and environmental substrates; it did not adjust for racial considerations.

Jencks, C., & Phillips, M. (Eds.). (1998). The Black-White Test Score Gap. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

This book deals with a lot of ground, including racial bias, IQ, family background, parenting practices, test score convergence, the impact on schools and culture, the burden of "acting white" and a number of other aspects covered in the various research project concerning the black-white test scores gap.

McKay, P.F., & Doverspike, D. (2001). African-Americans' Test-Taking Attitudes and Their Effect on Cognitive Ability Test Performance: Implications for Public Personnel Management Selection Practice. Public Personnel Management, 30(1), 67.

This was a review project examining the black attitude to cognitive ability tests and how that might affect later performance on such tests, and it concluded that such tests -- regardless of other factors regarding academia -- remain a valid predictor of job performance.

Roth, P.L., Bevier, C.A., Bobko, P., Switzer, F.S., & Tyler, P. (2001). Ethnic Group Differences in Cognitive Ability in Employment and Educational Settings: A Meta-Analysis. Personnel Psychology, 54(2), 297.

This study noted the cognitive abilities of different ethnic groups have interested researchers for more than a century, and that narrative reviews of the empirical literature focus on the black-white discrepancy. They wanted to proved or disprove that the standard deviation was 1 standard deviation, and investigate what this would mean for both education and employment. The conducted a meta-analytic review, and found that one standard deviation accurately summarized black-white differences for college application tests and overall analyses of tests for job applicants in corporate settings.

Sampson, C., & Boyer, P.G. (2001). GRE Scores as Predictors of Minority Students' Success in Graduate Study: An Argument for Change. College Student Journal, 35(2), 271.

This study wanted to ascertain whether standard entry prerequisites were accurate predictors of whether applicants can successfully complete the requirements for, and subsequently earn a graduate degree. Particularly, it looked at how accurate GRE scores and demographic variables are in predicting first year graduate work amount minority students. It found that there might well be a necessity of focusing on other factors besides the usual criteria when admitting minority students to graduate programs.

Williams, W.M., & Ceci, S.J. (1997). Current Issues: Trends in Intelligence, Socioeconomic Status, and Ethnicity in the United States Are Americans Becoming More or Less Alike? Trends in Race, Class, and Ability Differences in Intelligence. American Psychologist, 52(11), 1226-1235.

This research wanted to find the reason that American students' test scores have been slowly but steadily declining for the past half century. It investigated evidence for dysgenic trends and considered race, class and ability as potential reasons, as well as socioeconomic factors.


Analysis: Study of achievement gap between black and white students at suburban Ohio high school comes under scrutiny." 2003. National Public Radio, 23 December.

Anderson, E.S., & Keith, T.Z. (1997). A Longitudinal Test of a Model of Academic Success for At-Risk High School Students. The Journal of Educational Research, 90(5), 259.

Bracey, G.W. (2003). The 13th Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Phi Delta Kappan, 85(2), 148.

Cokley, K.O., & Helm, K. (2001). Testing the Construct Validity of Scores on the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 34(2), 80,

Fashola, Olatokunbo S. 2003. "Students and nonschool hours: Developing the talents of African-American male students during the nonschool hours." Urban Education, July.

Ferguson, Ronald F. 2001."A diagnostic analysis of Black-White GPA disparities in Shaker Heights, Ohio." Brookings Papers on Education Policy.

Ferguson, Ronald F. 2003. "Teachers' perceptions and expectations and the Black-White test scores gap." Urban Education, July.

Fuchs, D., &… [END OF PREVIEW]

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