The Achievement Gap Minority students in schools are trying to close the achievement gap between them and white students.


Impoverished: Make poor

Obstacle: A thing that blocks one's way or prevents or hinders progress

Plateaued: reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress

Quality: the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something

Reduction: the action or fact of making a specified thing smaller or less in amount, degree, or size

Significantly: a sufficiently great or important way as to be worthy of attention

Skills: the ability to do something well

What is the achievement gap?

The achievement gap is the disparity in academic performance between groups of students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, "the achievement gap focuses on the academic achievement with white students compared to hispanic and black students". In the achievement gap hispanic and black students are the minority to the white students because they struggle more in school than the white students. There are many factors that causes an achievement gap. “Many experts agree that the achievement gap is caused by myriad factors, including poverty, lack of early childhood education, meager family support, culturally-biased testing, underperforming schools, and lower academic expectations for poor and minority students,” says Sarah Rivera, a writer from the Missouri School of Journalism. Many factors are involved in the education gap which shows how they affect school achievement of minority groups.

What patterns are shown?

In school achievement latino and black students have lower test scores than white students. According to Kati Haycock, the president of The Education Trust, "Reading achievement among 17-year-old African Americans and Latinos climbed substantially through the 1970s and 1980s, but gaps separating them from other students widened since the 1990s" (Haycock). The gap between white and minority students were closing during the 1980’s but for some reason the gap widened since the 1990’s for minorities in reading. Minority groups are doing better in school achievement now than they were in the 1970s. According to Stanford Graduate School of Education, "the white-black and white-hispanic achievement gaps showed a 30-40% reduction compared to the gap in the 1970s". Even though the achievement gap is smaller than it was in the 1970s, we still want to close the achievement gap by figuring out minority groups struggles and reducing them.

Why is school achievement more difficult for minority students?

School achievement is more difficult for minority students than white students because minority students have more obstacles to deal with than white students. According to David Valadao, a member of the United States House of Representatives, “The biggest obstacle for Latinos is the English Language. Nearly 60% of English learners come from low-income families” (Valadao). This is why it is hard for latinos to do as well as white students. They have a disadvantage from the start from not knowing how to speak English and they struggle to learn English because most come from a family that struggles with money. In other words low income leads to low academic scores for minority children. If a family struggles with money, it is hard for the kids to focus highly on academics, and therefore they do not do as well in school because they are more focused on their family problems than academics. Black students also face many obstacles like the Hispanic students. According to a New York Times expert named Trip Gabriel, “a report shows that black boys on average fall behind from their earliest years. Black mothers have a higher infant mortality rate and black children are more likely than whites to live in a home where no parent has a job. In high school, African-American boys drop out at a much higher than the rate of white boys, and their SAT critical reasoning scores are on average significantly lower” (Gabriel). Blacks and Latinos face similar problems outside of school. Like Hispanics, most black students come from low-income families. As mentioned earlier, if you come from a low income family most likely you will have a lower academic success for the same reasons as stated about latino children earlier in this text. If blacks and latinos show the same connection we can clearly state that we need to find ways to help families of low income in order to increase the success of children in school. Black students struggle with major tests significantly compared to their white peers on average because of the many struggles that have to live with. Most people know that latino and black students are struggling in school achievement and they are helping by trying to help minority students to increase their success in the classroom.

How can we increase the academic success of minority students?

We can increase minority student’s academic success by getting them involved in programs which will provide multiple resources in order to help them improve in the classroom. According to the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative, "students completing study abroad programs improved in academic performance and resulted in higher graduation rates especially for minority students. Study Abroad is a program that takes place all over the nation where students not born in the United States pursue educational opportunities for themselves". One way to help minority students is by getting them involved in helpful programs that focuses on helping their growth in the classroom. Another way minority students can increase academic success is by getting them involved in the STEM program. According to Nasa experts, Ann Marie Trotta and Veronica McGregor, “NASA has awarded grants to nine academic institutions and their partners that serve large numbers of minority and underrepresented students to strengthen offerings in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. The grants total approximately $1.15 million through the agency's Curriculum Improvement Partnership Award for the Integration of Research (CIPAIR) project” (Trotta & McGregor). Nasa is helping minority students in school by offering the STEM program, which tries to improves the skills of the students science, technology, engineering and math. In the STEM program lots of resources will also be provided to the students to make school achievement easier, like technology and textbooks. Minority students do not want to just do better in school but they want to close the gap between them and white students.

What can we do better to eventually close the achievement gap?

We can help minority students by setting goals for them and their school district by assisting them in trying to achieve academically as well as white students. The National Education Association says, "top schools make closing the gap a district priority, engage teachers in making the curriculum stronger, decrease class sizes and provide additional resources for the minority students in order to improve their skills academic success at a much higher level than most expect". Top schools decrease class sizes in order for students to be more focused in class and not on their friends. They make closing the gap a priority in order to show they are willing to do anything to help minority students the best they can. Teachers are important in this process in order to set standards high for minority students by challenging them inside and outside of school. Quality resources are also important for students because they are going to need the best things that are going to help them get better test scores and maybe one day do just as well as white students. Ossa Fisher, the Chief Marketing Officer of Istation says, “Struggling students often need more instructional time coupled with an increased intensity of instruction in small groups and more repetitions or doses of instruction. For example, instruction offered to struggling readers needs to be clear and explicit, provide scaffolding, and target their individual needs. In order to close the gap students need more schooling and more challenged inside the classroom" (Fisher). More schooling improves academic success because they learn more with extra hours of schooling. Being challenged is also important because it will help minority students focus on what they are struggling in and improving it so they can reach a higher level of success. Overall, closing the achievement gap can be done by setting very high standards for them so they can reach the levels of white students one day.

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