The achievement gap also may ultimately negatively affect the U.S. As it may cause the nation to become less competitive in the increasingly global communities (What is the…, 2009). In addition, research indicates that the achievement gap contributes to students who more likely grow up to be unemployed, incarcerated, and poor. Consequently, a quality education proves critical for Black children (Elder, ¶ 3).
Causes Contributing to Achievement Gap
Causes contributing to the achievement gap between Blacks and Whites include educational targets increasingly annually, shifting demographics in the U.S., and the forthcoming addition of science targets. These and other factors such as teacher expectations, stereotyping, allocation of resources, high-quality teachers, and environment contribute to potential risks for increases in the achievement gap (What is the…, 2009, ¶ 2).
Gloria Ladson-Billings (2007), PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, reports that some perceive the achievement gap as merely one of student achievement; that the student does not fulfill his/her part. Ladson-Billings asserts in the journal publication, "Pushing past the achievement gap: An essay on the language of deficit," that the increasing pressure to achieve, stimulated by standardized testing, will likely contribute to high performing students continuing to excel. Both Black and Hispanic/Latino 17-year-olds reflect the largest gaps in testing. A number of other contemporary "gaps" that plague Black poor children include the following school funding gaps:
Chicago Public Schools spends about $8,482 per pupil while nearby Highland Park spends $17,291 per pupil. Chicago Public Schools have an 87% Black and Latino population while Highland Park has a 90% White population.
Per pupil expenditures in Philadelphia are $9,299 for its 79% Black and Latino population while across City Line Avenue in Lower Merion the per pupil expenditure is $17,261 for a 91% White population.
New York City Public Schools spend $11,627 per pupil for a student population…72% Black and Latino, while suburban Manhasset spends $22,311 for a student population that is 91% White. (Ladson-Billings, 2007, ¶ 6)
Academic outcomes reviews reflect significant differences in achievement related to ethnicity, Alexis Miranda, Linda Webb, Greg Brigman, and Paul Peluso (2007), all with Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, report in "Student success skills: A promising program to close the academic achievement gap for African-American and Latino students." During 2005, the U.S. Department of Education notes that 39% of Whites and 12% of Black were deemed proficient in reading by the end of eighth grade. At the end of eighth grade, 39% of White, and only 9% of Black students were deemed proficient in math.
In the journal article, "Winning methods of teachers who close the gap between black and white students," Johnnie Mckinley (2006), Director of achievement and equity for the Puyallup (Washington) School District, notes than numerous researchers highlight the achievement Black and poor minority students accomplished when their teachers implement "reflective approaches grounded in teacher effectiveness research and culturally responsive pedagogies. In fact, & #8230;these teachers adapt their knowledge, philosophies, instruction, and contextual features to students' cultures, needs, learning preferences, and prior experiences" (Mckinley, 2006, Conclusion section, ¶ 1). As effective teachers recognize their students' interests, needs, talents and working habits, they in turn, apply that knowledge to develop and implement lessons that plan for their students to make relevant individual progress.
Stephanie Hatheway (2006), an English Language Arts Teacher at Washington High School in Massillon, Ohio, reviews the book by Richard Rothstein, "Class and schools - using social, economic, and educational reform to close the black-white achievement gap." Hatheway notes the "Tennessee value-added assessment system" "separates the influence of teachers on the achievement gap from the child's family background, health and academic potential…a new twist for public school educators because only some of the blame could be placed on teachers for low achievement" (¶ 5). "No excuses" schools, Hatheway explains, are not actually what they appear. Hatheway reports that Rothstein places the responsibility for the education of all youth on all of society. The book's five chapters include the following:
1. Chapter One relates "historical background of the achievement gap, misunderstandings about the concept, genetic factors, social class, health care, cultural and even housing differences that affect student performance" Rhetorical questions help to analyze whether cultural background or society explain discrepancies in academic achievement. The most startling facts from this chapter are statistics about the size of the vocabulary of the middle-class kindergartener being raised in a home with college educated parents, compared to the vocabulary of the Black kindergartener from the home of non-degreed parents. The middle-class child begins school with a vocabulary equivalent to that of the lower-class Black adult. (Hatheway, 2006, ¶ 4).
2. Chapter Two explains how some schools "beat the demographic odds" when it comes to student achievement gaps, and within the chapter examples of the schools are given.
3. Incorrectly holding schools accountable for closing the achievement gap is the main crux of Chapter Three. Defining proficiency, aligning tests, standards and instruction makes up most of this chapter. Particular attention could be given to comments about how standardized tests fail to test higher level thinking skills of students. Rainy days, hungry students, illness or even a small school population may statistically affect test results. Scores from annual tests do nothing to close the achievement gap, Rothstein contends, because these tests are politically motivated, they still can never equalize the differences between social classes in students.
4. Non-cognitive skills such as courage and citizenship seemed to be important qualities that students need to learn in school. But how can these characteristics be measured by one standardized test? The correlation between leadership, democratic participation, and employability is highly valued according to employers, but as Chapter four states, "Some education critics mock schools for trying to teach self-esteem rather than concentrating on academics" (Rothstein, p. 111). Curriculum that focuses on employable character traits is not being taught in school anymore, yet there is a demand for high school graduates with these skills. Black students seem to lack these skills and employers often say they do not have personality traits for the workforce. Work ethic is not tested on standardized tests, so school reform is needed to address these societal and economic issues.
5. Chapter Five focuses on ways to fix the growing achievement gap between Black and White students. Special attention should be given to the section on the late Senator Daniel Moynihan and the social policies he wanted to create to close this gap. This chapter gives some concrete, albeit political, choices that must be made in this country if we are serious about putting Black and White students on equal educational footing. Reforms such as raising median family income levels, stable housing, community health clinics, summer enrichment programs, early childhood education, and after school programs wilt help to secure success for lower performing Black students. (Hatheway, 2006, ¶ 5-8).
Hatheway (2006) recommends that educators who deal with Black and other low socio-economic status student read Rothstein's book as it clearly relates vital information for helping socially -economically disadvantaged Black youth overcome the achievement gap. Teacher Expectations
The teacher accused her cousin of cheating when she earned an A on a test, one African-American high school student/participant explained in an interview in the study. "African-Americans in schools: Tiptoeing around racism," by Carol Rozansky-Lloyd (2005), PhD., University of Nebraska at Omaha. Rozansky-Lloyd reports that results from her phenomenological approach study, part of a larger qualitative study examining a number of the complexities related to a number of mathematics and science achievement, highly correlated with students' race, indicate that many children who "fail" in schools possess knowledge contrary to what educators expect. Rozansky-Lloyd argues that for these students to overcome the achievement gap, the educators have to begin to "see" these students through in light of their cultural difference.
Rozansky-Lloyd 92005) stresses that when teachers expect Black students to be low achievers, they may actually see what they expect. One middle school math teacher agreed: "It's like writing a detention or referral beforehand. You're just assuming that kid is going to be bad that period or day. You can't do that" (Rozansky-Lloyd, ¶ 1). Numerous other informants who participated in the funded project to increase the achievement of Black students in mathematics and science and decrease the achievement gap between the Black students and other student groups of students, agreed. When educators listen to what students have to say and expect the student's best, students more likely listen to educators and exert their best efforts. When teachers traditionally demonstrate respect for African-American culture and particularly for their students, they more regularly effectively teach these previously low-achieving Black students. They effective teacher also knows how to implement successful practices and also adjust practices which prove to not be as successful.
The individual having some modicum of control over situations like stereotyping in the educational setting is oftentimes the teacher. How the student's perceive the teacher's actions will often either encourage…