Term Paper: Schools Experience Higher Graduation Rates

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[. . .] The study sought to examine what factors contributed to the academic success of at risk students. The research asserts that Latino and African-American students have historically had lower graduation rates than their White peers. The article also states that these two minority groups are less likely to return to school and get their diplomas within four years. (Anderson & Keith 1997)

The authors explain that although these historical realities exist, there are many at risk students who achieve academically. Anderson & Keith (1997) explain that the factors that lead to such academic success are student ability, quality of instruction, home environment, and student motivation. The authors assert that of these variables

Ability exerted the most powerful influence of any of the variables in the school learning model. Student ability affected achievement directly and also indirectly through quality of schooling, student motivation, and completion of academic coursework. Academic coursework also exerted a powerful effect on academic achievement. It appears that each additional academic course that an at-risk student completes can be expected to result in an increase of one eighth of a standard deviation in academic achievement test scores. Student motivation exerted moderate direct effects on achievement and moderate indirect effects mediated by academic coursework." (Anderson & Keith 1997)

Overall, the study found that ability quality of schooling, student motivation, and enrollment in academic coursework had the most profound impact upon at risk students. This study illustrates the need for schools to ensure that all students have access to programs that will improve there abilities. By implementing these programs schools will also be able to improve student motivation. In addition, school districts must be certain that students are receiving a quality education.

The Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, explored the cultural differences between Blacks, Hispanics and Whites. The purpose of the study was to examine the process of these differences at work. Madhere (1997)hoped to accomplish this "by first examining how the level of literacy attained by African-American, Latino, and White high school students, respectively, tends to be impacted in very different ways by similar markers in their family background, the academic opportunity structure, and their own subjectivities." (Madhere 1997)

One of Madhere's assertions is that low high school graduation rates amongst minorities are most often caused by the social distribution of knowledge. The author contends that the differences in academic achievement among Minorities and whites are due to a fundamental difference between the way White people and Minorities are viewed in our society. Madhere (1997) reports that The social distribution of knowledge is often performed along racial and ethnic lines. The practice is so pervasive that Ogbu (1978) characterized the organization of schooling in America as a caste system. In such a system, social outcomes (viz., achievement and mobility) are inextricably tied to some immutable characteristic (e.g., race or gender). Members of the dominant and the subjugated groups alike internalize or at least conform to the rules of behavior dictated by the caste-like system, which leads them to adopt different cognitive orientations (Ogbu, 1996). The cognitive orientations are repeatedly reinforced through social events, inasmuch as comparable inputs would fail to yield comparable outputs. Fine (1989) noted, for instance, that "a high school diploma brings with it quite discrepant opportunities based on one's social class, race, and gender, and further, the absence of such a diploma ensures quite disparate costs based on the same demographics" (p. 154)." (Madhere 1997)

Madhere's assertion is that to have high performing students of all races school districts must embrace diversity and attempt to understand other cultures. In addition, his assertion insists that one of the reasons that some students receive high school diplomas is based on their social class. He contends that only having a high school diploma if you are an upper middle class White student has different social ramifications than only having a high school diploma if you are a low-income Latino student. Madhere (1997) contends that this type of thinking is detrimental to minorities and may contribute to lower graduation rates amongst minorities. At any rate, now that we have reviewed some of the studies concerning minority graduation rates let us discuss the problems that occur when individuals do not complete high school.

Ramifications of not Completing High School

We all know that high school diploma is a necessity in finding a job or pursuing a college degree. According to Powell (2003) research has suggested that when students do not graduate from high school there are serious social consequences. The article reports that over half of high school dropouts are unemployed and cannot enroll in colleges. In addition, Powell (2003) reports that students that quit high school earn less money, have poorer physical and mental health and experience lower levels of academic achievement. Those that do not complete high school also cost the taxpayers billions each year. Powell (2003) explains "Dropouts constitute 52% of welfare recipients, 82% of the prison population, and 85% of juvenile justice cases, and drug use among 17- to 22-year-olds is highest among high school dropouts." (Powell 2003)

An article entitled, "A High School Drop-Out Prevention Program for the At-Risk Sophomore Students" explains that dropouts that end up in jail are a particularly tragic affect of dropping out of high school. The article contends,

One million of the two million prison inmates are high school drop-outs, and for many of them it means manpower never to be regained. First, and most important for all inmates "truth and creditability" of the individual is lost forever, and second because 80% of inmates are addicted to alcohol or drugs, and the success rate of addiction rehabilitation is low (around 15% success), much manpower is lost. High School Principals across our nation must take immediate action to prevent such high school drop-outs before there is the contagion of being a prison inmate with lack of trust, and before there is the loss of manpower through addiction." (Cassel 2003)

Cassel (2003) suggests that one of the ways to increase graduation rates is to identify at risk students and develop programs to reach them. The author contends that these programs will give them the support that is needed to succeed in high school. Cassel (2003) contends that spending money on these programs will save money in the future by reducing the number of inmates in our nation's prisons.

Indeed, graduating from high school is pivotal to life long success. When people fail to finish school there can be severe personal and social ramifications. Now that we have conducted a literature review of pertaining to high graduation statistics, studies investigating minority graduation rates and the ramifications of not receiving a high school diploma, we can explore the constructs of the conceptual framework.

Conceptual Framework

Sphere 1

Higher Minority Graduation Rates

The first construct and overall goal is to improve minority graduation rates. The recommendations that are created by this study will increase graduation rates through the constructs of smaller class sizes and lower teach to student ratios, increases in the quality of education, the embracing of diversity and the implementation of systemic interventions.

Sphere 2

Embrace Diversity

The second construct is to embrace diversity. We are living in an America that is more diverse than ever before. One of the major problems with the American School system is that is has not yet adapted to the idea that that students come from a variety of cultures and religious backgrounds. Understanding these diversities is essential to making the student feel comfortable at school and creating an environment that is conducive to learning. Students' ability to learn will increase the likelihood that they will graduate.

Sphere 3

Smaller Classes -- "lower teacher to student ratios

The third construct involves smaller classes. Repeatedly the literature has shown that the teacher to student ratio can be a determining factor in academic achievement. Ensuring that students have smaller classes will increase the likelihood that they get the individual attention that they need, increasing the likelihood that they will graduate.

Sphere 4

Implement Systemic Interventions

The fourth construct deals with the implementation of systemic interventions. According to the literature, systemic interventions are capable of decreasing dropout rates because they improve the environmental factors in schools, families, and communities that contribute to the problem. In addition, systemic interventions have been shown to improve academic performance amongst minority students. These interventions are necessary in helping high school students to cope with environmental situations and increase the likelihood that they will graduate.

Sphere 5

Increase the Quality of Education

The final construct involves the increasing of the quality of education that students receive. The quality of education the students receive can be a determining factor in whether or not they graduate. The quality of education that students receive should not be based on race, class or gender. Improving the quality of education will involve hiring qualified teacher and ensuring that students have all the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Schools Experience Higher Graduation Rates."  Essaytown.com.  August 3, 2004.  Accessed June 26, 2019.