Math Achievement African-American vs White Term Paper

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In grade four white males performing "At or Above Basic" math skills is stated at 90% while black males were performing at only 59% "At or Above Basic" skill levels. White males in the "At or Above Proficient" skills level is stated at 49% with black males in this category stated at a mere 13%.

The following labeled Figure 2 shows the statistical report of NAEP (2005) in relation to achievement differences among African-American and White American males.

NAEP STATISTICAL REPORT: Minority Male Achievement Gaps Relative to White Males, Grade 4, 2005

Source: NAEP STATISTICAL REPORT (2005)

By the time these students reach 8th grade white males "At or Above Basic Achievement Levels" totals 76% while only 43% of the African-American males are "At or Above Basic Achievement Levels" the negative value in the Achievement Gap of African-American Males as relative to White Males indicates that a lower percentage of minority males are achieve at or above basic levels than are white males.

NAEP STATISTICAL REPORT

Minority Male Achievement Gaps Relative to White Males, Grade 8, 2005

Source: NAEP STATISTICAL REPORT (2005)

By the time the student reaches the 12th grade the white males that are "At or Above Basic Achievement Levels" is stated at 69% while the African-American males "At or Above Basic Achievement Levels" is stated at 46%.

NAEP STATISTICAL REPORT

Minority Male Achievement Gaps Relative to White Males, Grade 12, 2005

Source: NAEP STATISTICAL REPORT (2005)

Demographics

Eleanor Babco states in the work entitled: "Uphill Climb: the Status of African-Americans in Science and Engineering. Making Strides" that: "African-Americans constitute the largest racial minority group in the U.S. And their numbers continue to grow. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 1999 show the proportion of African-Americans increased from 12.3% of the population in 1990 to 12.8% in 1999 or a total of 34.9 million. This compares with a decline in the proportion of whites from 83.9% in 1990 to 82.4% in 1999. (2004) the projected population for African-American's will double according to the U.S. Census Bureau states Babco to approximately "61 million, or 14.4% of the estimated population of 394 million compared to 295 million or 74.9% for whites." (2004)

Historical Overview of Educational Trends in United States

Before the decade of the 1970s African-American individuals were practically non-existent as scholars or employees in the science and engineering community and for those who earned their undergraduate degree in science and engineering the degree was from one of the 'historically black colleges or universities' of what is referred to as a 'HBCU'. The HBCUs were established following the Civil War. The work of Babco relates that: "African-Americans have made some progress in increasing their participation in the science and engineering enterprise. Their test scores have risen; the number graduating from high school and entering college is increasing; the number receiving baccalaureates and going onto graduate school is increasing. But the proportions doing so are not large enough or climbing sufficiently to make much of a difference in the total makeup of the pool. If the U.S. wants to continue its world's leadership in science and technology, it must utilize the talent of all of its citizens, capitalizing on the many advantages of diversity. The traditional base of our science and engineering enterprise, white males, is decreasing." (2004) However, it is seen as important that focused and intentional ongoing initiatives for change be ensured.

Overview of Challenges in Provision of Equitable Education Opportunities

Davis of Temple University in the study entitled; "Early Schooling and Academic Achievement of African-American Males" in the Sage Publishing abstract states that: "African-American males challenge schools in many ways. Perhaps the single most important challenge that has garnered recent attention in research reports, policy documents, and public commentary has been the increasing disparity in the educational achievement of African-American males relative to their peers. Although other issues, such as the need to develop programs that promote school readiness, improving teacher education, and providing resources to meet increasing academic standards, are important, the implications for achievement differentials are even more far-reaching. The negative consequences of the achievement gap are more acute for African-American males who are victimized by chronic, systemic levels of poor performance and behavior problems in school. In short, the potential loss of resources -- intellectual, cultural, and economic -- resulting from lower achievement reduces the capacity of African-American males to be productive, integral, and contributing members of their communities." (2006, Sage Publishing Abstract: Davis nd)

Monique M. McMillian states in the work entitled; "Is No Child Left Behind 'Wise Schooling' for African-American Male Students?" published in the High School Journal - Volume 87, Number 2 in December 2003-January 2004, and on pages 25-33 that if achievement among African-American students is to be improved, then education professions "must pay special attention to African-American male achievement and reframe the academic achievement gap as a treatment gap. (2003-2004) McMillan relates that "Engagement studies suggest that African-American students and African-American boys in particular, are susceptible to academic disengagement. Specifically research suggests that education professional's "stereotyping about ability" are partly responsible for the disengagement and lagging achievement of African-American male students." Ibid)

Conceptualization of Problem Why African-American Males Don't Excel in Math

The findings of Oakes (1990a) states that while no difference exists in the experience of African-American students attending inner city schools, and who were from poor families and had been clustered in low-ability classes did not differ greatly from the experiences in mathematics education of their white peers in the elementary school grades however by the time the secondary grades were reached the findings of Oakes states that there were less opportunities for learning math in the secondary grades as did their white peers. In the research of Moody entitled: "Conceptualizing the Mathematics Education of African-American Students: Making Sense of Problems and Explanations" stated is that; "...strongly held views of mathematics as a sorting agent may lead to all students not receiving the same mathematics education. Anderson (1990) argued that this view of mathematics as a sorting agent is an elitist view, meaning that only a select few can learn or do mathematics. Consequently, this elitist view leads to Sells' (1978) notion of mathematics as a critical filter. In this sense, mathematics acts as a gatekeeper for particular jobs and opportunities and is an influential factor in determining students' career designations. Those students, who do not succeed in mathematics, including a disproportionately large number of African-American students, have limited opportunities. Thus, mathematics ability levels may serve as sources of social stratification (Secada, 1989)" (Moody, 1997)

Structural Challenges

Berryman (1983) states that "Mathematics education metaphorically takes on the form of a scientific pipeline (Berryman, 1983). Berryman's study revealed that the African-American and white children entering the elementary schools at the same time will result in a more significant number of African-Americans leaving the schools in middle school. The work of Oakes (1990b) revealed that even more African-Americans will leave the school by the time they are old enough to enter high school. Moody (1997) states that the work of Johnson provides an argument supporting the factors influencing more African-Americans dropping out of school are the factors of (1) an absence of role models; (2) a lack of significant others with interest in achievement in math; (3) a failure to receive career counseling of a positive nature; (4) usefulness and relevance of math in real life not perceived by the African-American individual; (5) a view that math is only relevant or suited to white males; and (6) lack of success in previous mathematics courses. (Moody, 1997; paraphrased)

Oppression: Social, Economic and Political and Resistance to Schooling

Boykin stated in 1986 that "The minority experience is based on exposure to social, economic and political oppression." (p. 66) Resistance to schooling is the manifestation of resistance to schooling which is a defensive posture developed by the African-American in coping with the "oppressive forces." (Ogbu, 1991) According to Moody the factors that have the most to do with academic achievement of those in the African-American culture are: (1) the diligence with which schools teach the children, and (2) how the students perceive and respond to schooling (Ogbu, 1986, p. 40; as cited by Moody, 1997) the work of Ogbu (1986) held that there are three minority groups coexisting in U.S. schools, and while some succeed in school that some do not. Those three groups of minorities are as proposed by Ogbu to be: (1) autonomous; (2) immigrant; and (3) castelike minorities. The later group is the one assigned to African-American individuals since while immigrants (such as the Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, and Koreans) come to the U.S. On a voluntary basis for improvement of their status either economically, politically or socially, the "African-Americans, Native Americans, and Mexican-Americans are "castelike minorities since they were incorporated into the country involuntarily and permanently through slavery or conquest." (Moody, 1997) in fact Boykin (1986) holds that the…[continue]

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