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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

What Contributes to the Academic and Income Achievement Gap

What Contributes to the Academic and Income Achievement Gap

Lee and Slaughter-Defoe (2004) suggested that the academic gap is a major part of the African American experience in school.  Lee and Slaughter-Defoe found that between the early 1970s and early 1980s, there was a decrease in the African American versus Caucasian, and the Hispanic versus Caucasian academic achievements.

Findings of the Lee study showed that during the same decade, Caucasian student academic achievement levels remained at the same level, while the African American student achievement level improved.  After the late 1980s, the gap began to widen again.  The most likely explanation for the increase was that more technical high schools and middle schools were being opened in predominantly Caucasian communities, but few were being opened in urban communities where the majority of African American students reside.  Lee and Slaughter-Defoe’s study also showed that the gap between Caucasian and Hispanic students narrowed very little compared to the gap between African American and Caucasian students, but as time passed, the gap eventually returned and became wider.

Lee and Slaughter-Defoe found that the achievement gap existed between Caucasian and African American students because of changes in school curriculum, more up-to-date equipment, and more highly educated teachers.  Lee and Slaughter-Defoe posited that it would be simplistic to conclude that African American students who were low achievers would receive more benefit from a basic academic skills emphasis, while Caucasian students who were predominantly high performers would benefit more from a higher skills emphasis.

Lee and Slaughter-Defoe concluded that the connection between culture and poverty has resulted in lower test scores, but has been ignored for a half century since being noted by Thorndike in 1951.  English (2002) noted the low success rate of minority students in schools has too often been portrayed as individual failures of students instead of instructional failures of the system based on false notions of objectivity shrouded in the mantle of impartial tests of ‘ability’ (p. 298).

Many factors other than school curriculum and teacher changes must be considered when analyzing the prevailing academic achievement gap, including the prevailing culture of the various segments of the U.S. population represented in an individual classroom or school.  Some of the contributions discussed in this website are:

Culture, Socio-Economic Status, Curriculum Quality, Standardized Tests, Teacher Quality
Though we have split it, We hope you will be able to follow them.

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