Addressing the “achievement gap”. Created by penumbra theatre summer institute students interning at the advocates for human rights summer 2014. Overview. What is the “achievement gap”? How is the “achievement” gap currently being addressed ? How should we address the problem ? . questions.
Addressing the “achievement gap” Created by penumbra theatre summer institute students interning at the advocates for human rights summer 2014
Overview • What is the “achievement gap”? • How is the “achievement” gap currently being addressed? • How should we address the problem?
questions • Is there diversity in the demographics of the general staff and administration at your school? • Have you observed racial and gender segregation at your school? • Is your culture’s history taught in your school curriculum? Do you read literature by female authors? Do you read literature by authors of color? • Do you feel safe asking questions and voicing comments in class? • Are boys usually the leaders of class discussions? • Do male teachers and faculty take you seriously? • Do you find that students of color require more discipline? • Do many students of color show interest in AP or honors classes? • Would you/have you ever confronted another staff member about a race or gender issue? • What have you done, if anything, to address the “achievement gap” at your school?
What is the “achievement Gap”? • “The ‘achievement gap’ in education refers to the disparity in academic performance between groups of students. The achievement gap shows up in grades, standardized-test scores, course selection, dropout rates, and college-completion rates, among other success measures. In the past decade, though, scholars and policymakers have begun to focus increasing attention on other achievement gaps, such as those based on sex, English-language proficiency and learning disabilities” (7). • “Some researchers are also exploring more subtle factors that can contribute to achievement gaps such as peer pressure, student tracking, negative stereotyping, and test bias. Research also has shown that students from a disadvantaged group can perform below their normal ability when confronted with negative stereotypes about their group” (7).
How is the “achievement” gap currently being addressed? • “In principle, the public has been behind closing the achievement gap, and schools have employed a variety of tactics to address it. Common reform recommendations have included reducing class sizes, creating smaller schools, expanding early-childhood programs, raising academic standards, improving the quality of teachers provided to poor and minority students, and encouraging more minority students to take high-level courses. Still, progress in reducing academic divides has been slow or nonexistent” (7).
How should we address the problem? • We believe that teachers are key to reducing the “achievement gap,” as they are the ones working most closely with students. A teacher can be a very influential person in a child’s life. The methods that teachers use to encourage their students throughout their learning process can have a great impact on their success. • Girls and students of color can be most vulnerable to the “achievement gap” due to traditional teaching practices and the culture of their learning environments. • We asked both students and teachers questions about their school communities and compiled information about problem areas and possible solutions. This information is included in “why it is important and what can be done” in the following slides.
Is There diversity in the demographics of the general staff and administration at your school? • “One of our missions is that we want our teachers to match the look and experience of the students that they are serving.” – Administrator • Why it is important & what can be done: • • Having teachers come from the community of the students motivates the students to achieve. • • Having female teachers in math and science encourages female students’ interest in the subjects as well as the idea that women have the capability to excel in STEM fields in the future. • • “Exposing girls to talented female mathematicians can reduce the negative influence of stereotype threat .”(1) • • Hiring teachers of color becomes difficult when the environment does not change to accommodate them. This contributes to a cycle as parents of students of color want to see diverse representation of teachers and potential teachers want to see diverse representations of students. The end result of this lack of accommodations is a continuation of the problem. • • Students can more easily find mentors they are comfortable with when the staff demographics reflect the students body demographics.
Have you observed racial and gender segregation at your school? • “We’re a small enough community that very strong integration occurs. We structure the program to ensure that the students are engaged with each other. – Administrator • “Educators notice that kids often group themselves with others of the same race.” – Beverly Daniel Tatum (Author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”) • Why it is important & what can be done: • • The separation of the majority in power from those who hold less power in the community reinforces social hierarchy. • • When those who are in the position to succeed according to society’s standards are separated from those who feel they cannot succeed, stereotypes are reinforced. • Smaller classes create closer integrated communities. • Understand the difference between health and unhealthy segregation. Students of color need safe spaces to interact with each other.
Is your culture’s history taught in your school curriculum? Do you read literature by female authors? Do you read literature by authors of color? • “The only part of my culture's history that is taught is slavery.” – Student • “It’s hard to find women in the classics we read for school maybe because their works aren’t considered classics. If we do [read literature by authors of color], they are never women of color.” - Student • Why it is important & what can be done: • “The root cause of institutional racism and thus the achievement gap, is the Euro-centric curriculum and the Euro-centric dominant society (3)”. • • Avoid exclusion and alienation. • • Make sure that students are engaged in subjects they can relate to. • • Have examples of figures [students] can look up to.
Do you feel safe asking questions and voicing comments in class? • “I don’t think it’s a matter of safety anymore. I think I'll always feel unsafe. I think at this point its a matter of whether I can leave this classroom feeling okay with the fact that I did or didn't ask that question, or say a comment.” - Student • Why it is important & what can be done: • • Students can get the help they need and teachers can understand and address when a student is struggling. • • Students may try to appear as if they do not need help in order to dissuade others from placing stereotypes on them. Only active participation can break the cycle. • • Comments could give insight into the how to better teach students affected by the “achievement gap.” • Pay attention to the needs and concerns of all students by inviting them into class discussions.
Are boys usually the leaders of class discussions? • “Men interrupt all the time and they don't even know it. In the few times women dominate a discussion [the boys] will joke about women talking too much amongst their friends to make themselves feel better.” - Student • Why it is important & what can be done: • • Validate women’s opinions. • • Aid in increasing female students confidence in the classroom. • “…men dominate mixed discussion groups everywhere -- both within the classroom and beyond(4)”. • Invite girls into class discussions.
Do male teachers and faculty take you seriously? • “My voice is just as important as anyone else's. I have grown up with a crown on my head that cannot be taken by any supremacist society.” - Student • Why it is important & what can be done: • • Female students should feel that their thoughts, beliefs, ideas, etc. are valid and taken into account sincerely. • “Stereotype threat—the anxiety that arises when a girl finds herself in a situation where a negative stereotype about girls or women prevails (e.g., ‘girls are bad at math’)—can hinder performance on tests and other assessments of ability (2)”. • • The environment established in school determines how female students will approach relations with others in the work force. • • Female students should not feel that they have to work against the adults who are put in positions to help them achieve.
Do you find that students of color require more discipline? • “In some school communities discrimination in discipline comes from a largely white environment so the students feel like it’s not their space. White teachers can interpret their behavior in reaction to that as problems when they really aren’t.” - Administrator • Why it is important & what can be done: • “Youth of color… are far more likely to be removed from school for disciplinary reasons than other students. African American students are over 3 times more likely than their White peers to be suspended or expelled often for similar offenses” (5). • Discriminatory discipline reinforces negative stereotypes in the minds of students of color. The system already puts them in a position to fail and they cannot escape the cycle in the future. • Suspended students are more likely to drop out or come into contact with the juvenile justice system (5). • Talk through the issue before resorting to disciplinary action.
Do many students of color show interest in ap or honors classes? • “…unfortunately some of our accelerated courses do not have as many students of color in them as we would like to see.” – Teacher • “Most of the students of color we see are highly motivated and have high potential.” – Administrator • Why it is important & what can be done: • Even in racially mixed schools, it is very common for young people of color, particularly Black and Latino students, to find that the upper-level courses have very few students of color in them (8). • Encouraging students to participate in accelerated courses increases their opportunities for collage and careers.
Would you/have you ever confronted another staff member about a race or gender issue? • How you approach the person is very important, you don't want to be confrontational or that person will immediately become defensive and not receive your message. -Teacher • Why it is important & what can be done: • Students need to be supported and understood when they cannot recognize or directly address discrimination against them. • “It is imperative to call attention to the problematic and the privileged, because all too often, no one does” (6). • To break the cycle on neutrality, teachers and those in power in the school administration cannot be bystanders in cases of insensitivity.
What have you done, if anything, to address the “Achievement gap” at your school? • “I feel relationship building with students is very important. I differentiate my instructional practices and focus on lessons that students can connect and relate to. Frequent communication with families is key as well so that we're in partnership.” - Teacher • Why it is important & what can be done: • In order to reduce the “achievement gap,” all aspects of schooling need to be affordable. • Accelerated and advanced courses can help to narrow the “achievement gap.” • Exposing teachers to other cultures and communities can ensure that students feel comfortable in their learning environment.
Works Cited • 1. David M. Marx and Jasmin S. Roman, “Female Role Models: Protecting Women’s Math Test Performance,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28, no. 9 (2002): 1183—93. • 2. Kelly Danaher and Christian S. Crandall, “Stereotype Threat in Applied Settings Re-Examined,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 38, no. 6 (2008): 1639—55. • 3. Charles, Bob. "Removing the Euro-Centric Curriculum." Edutopia. Edutopia, 20 Sept. 2011. Web. 25 June 2014. • 4. Krupnick, Catherine G. "Women and Men in the Classroom." Women and Men in the Classroom. Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University, 2002. Web. 22 June 2014. • 5. "U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Release School Discipline Guidance Package." YouTube. U.S. Department of Education, 8 Jan. 2014. Web. 25 June 2014. • 6. Dadabhoy, Heina. "When Calling Out Is Called Out." Skepchick. N.p., 21 Mar. 2013. Web. 26 June 2014. • 7. Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. (2011, July 7). Issues A-Z: Achievement Gap. Education Week. Web. 26 June 2014. • 8. "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together? A Conversation with Beverly Daniel Tatum." Interview by John O'Neil. Educational Leadership. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1997. Web. 26 June 2014.