Achievement Gap

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The achievement gap is defined as the disparity between the performance groups of students, especially groups defined by gender, race/ethnicity, ability and socio-economic status. The achievement gap can be observed through a variety of measures including standardized test scores, grade point averages, drop out rates, college enrollment and completion rates. The Black-White achievement gap is a critical issue in modern society’s education system. Although data surrounding the issue clearly indicates that the racial performance gap exists in areas of standardized tests, graduation rates, dropout rates, and enrollment in continuing education, the causative reasons for the gap are ambiguous—therefore presenting a significant challenge in regard to the most effective way to close the gap. The gap appears before children enter kindergarten and it persists into adulthood (Jencks 1998). Since 1970, the gap has decreased about 40 percent, but has steadily grown since. Theories suggest the Black-White achievement gap is created by a multitude of social, cultural, and economic factors as well as educational opportunities and/or learning experiences. Factors such as biased testing, discrimination by teachers, test anxiety among black students, disparities between blacks and whites in income or family structure, and genetic and cultural differences between blacks and whites have all been evaluated as explanations for the Black-White achievement gap (Farkas 2004). The research that follows will elaborate on these factors as they affect the decline in academic performance of black males—particularly the literacy achievement of black males.

Within the Black-White achievement gap resides a subgroup whose academic performance is distressingly ...

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...disparities between the two ethnic communities that can be traced back to the legacy of slavery and other forms of oppression that blacks have suffered.” Supporters of this view felt that educational achievement correlates more strongly with economic status than with any other single variable. Since the majority of the black community lags behind whites in income and wealth, the educational inequalities are caused by the economic inequalities. They believe that once the inequalities disappear, the educational disparities will as well. Many argue that this is not a viable argument. They point to other minority groups such as Asians, some of whom are financially worse off than blacks, and they excel in school . They felt that because the civil rights legislation removed all roadblocks back in the 60’s and 70’s something else must be contributing to the large gap.

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