Why African American Boys Are Falling Behind

Running Head: AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS African American Students Are Falling Behind In Education [Name of the writer] [Name of the institution] African American Students Are Falling Behind In Education Introduction Today it has been discussed frequently ?n academic institutions that African American students are falling behind ?n education. T? improve achievement among African American students, education professions must pay special attention t? African American male achievement and reframe th? academic achievement gap as ? treatment gap.Engagement studies suggest that African American students and African American boys ?n particular, are susceptible t? academic disengagement. Specifically, research (Steele and Aronson 1995) suggests that education professionals’ “stereotypes about ability” are partly responsible for th? disengagement and lagging achievement ?f African American male students. This author recommends that education professionals use ‘wise schooling’ t? minimize th? effects ?f these stereotypes on achievement. Nowadays, due t? different reasons, African American students are falling behind ?n education.These reasons that are mentioned below have started ? new debate among American teachers and administrators. Generally, racial discrimination, genetic and cultural difference are seems t? be th? main reasons behind their failureness.

According t? some teachers, academic achievement for African Americans has improved significantly over th? last three decades, as measured by elementary and secondary attendance (U. S. Department ?f Commerce Economics ; Statistics Administration, 1998, p. 187), standardized test scores (U. S.

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Department ?f Commerce Economics ; Statistics Administration, 1998, p. 184), and higher-education degree attainment (U. S. Bureau ?f th? Census, 1998; U. S.

Department ?f Education, 1996); however, th? ethnic achievement gap has improved only slightly (U. S. Department ?f Education, 1999).

Further, although th? gap ?n 17-year-old students’ science scores for African American and European American Americans also narrowed from 1970 t? 1986, most ?f th? decline reflects ? one-time decrease between 1982 and 1986 (Finn, 1989).Finally, th? ethnic gap among th? highest-achieving African American and European American high-school students has remained virtually th? same over th? last 30 years (Finn, 1989). These patterns ?f falling behind persist even after predictor variables, such as socioeconomic status, preparation level, and educational aspirations, have been controlled (Steele, 1992). For instance, African American students from high-income and well-educated families tend t? have lower Advanced Placement scores than their European American and Asian-American counterparts (College Entrance Examination Board, 1999).Additionally, th? most prepared (as measured by SAT scores ?f 1400 or above) African American students drop out ?f college at substantially higher rates than their European American counterparts (Steele, 1992). Steele noted that 18 t? 33 percent ?f African American students with SAT scores ?f 1400 or above leave college early, but only 2 t? 11 percent ?f European American students drop out. ?n addition, even though African American students have equivalent or higher educational aspirations, European American students have higher academic achievements (Graham, 1994).

Consequently, European American college students continue t? graduate with higher grade-point averages, have lower dropout rates, and attain higher levels ?f education than African American students. Teachers, administrators, and other educational professionals ?n th? U. S.

have been under pressure from th? federal government for some time t? eliminate th? African American-European American achievement gap. Under th? new “No Child Left Behind” Act (NCLB), however, teachers’ and administrators’ rewards and sanctions now are tied t? th? annual progress ?f schools toward eliminating th? achievement gap by 2014.Before NCLB, teachers and other education professionals ?n some states could be rewarded for general progress. For example, education professionals ?n North Carolina, under th? ABCs accountability program before NCLB, could be rewarded for overall student performance, even if th? achievement gap between African American and European American students did not decline. Now, education professionals must ensure that all students succeed.

Proponents ?f NCLB argue that one way t? reduce th? achievement gap is t? eliminate th? “soft bigotry ?f low expectations” (Portes, 1996).This argument coincides with research suggesting that low teacher expectations negatively affect students’ academic achievements. Th? purpose ?f this paper is t? provide teachers, administrators, and other educational professionals with recommendations for increasing achievement among African American and European American students. First, t? improve achievement among African American students, education professions must pay special attention t? African American male achievement.

Second, t? improve African American achievement, educational professionals cannot frame African American achievement within th? context ?f th? racial gap.Contrary t? NCLB, this racial-gap framework disengages and suppresses African American achievement by reinforcing low expectations. Thus, this paper suggests alternative practices for teachers and educators other than NCLB. Why African-Americans Are Falling Behind Continuously? Numerous theories and models have been proposed t? explain th? reasons ?f falling behind ?n education among African American students, including genetic, cultural difference, and cultural deficit theories. However, these various theoretical perspectives have not adequately explained th? ethnic achievement gap (Portes, 1996).Genetic-deficit analyses, for example, have been methodologically unsound. Contemporary cultural-difference theories have not adequately explained why some minority groups perform better than others (Portes, 1996). Furthermore, cultural-deficit theories have been labeled as ethnocentric, and children’s developmental gains from interventions based upon this model have been short-lived (Portes, 1996).

Th? NCLB is ? policy based upon ? superficial-deficit model (Dede, 2002). Such models focus on outputs (racial achievement gaps) instead ?f inputs (resources, accessibility, and quality ?f instruction).Although NCLB does address th? importance ?f improving inputs, it falls short ?n defining these inputs and recognizing their effects.

For instance, quality teachers are defined as those who have bachelor’s degrees, state certificates, licensure, and known competency (U. S. Department ?f Education, 2003). For instance, although NCLB emphasizes th? importance ?f developing phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehention ?n young children, it does not acknowledge that th? schooling process devalues students’ experiences (e. g.

by insisting on interracial comparisons instead ?f intraracial variability). Instead ?f focusing on ? race-comparative framework, recent research has focused on how intraracial disparities contribute t? th? achievement gap (Graham, 1994). For example, th? gender gap is ? significant intraracial disparity that has contributed t? th? achievement gap for African American students. At every socioeconomic level, African American girls outperform African American boys, and these gender-related differences are most profound at th? lowest socioeconomic level (Wheat, 1997). n addition, girls are more likely t? be promoted t? th? next grade than boys (Wheat, 1997). Furthermore, nearly all gains ?n higher educational attainment for African Americans reflect an increase ?n degrees earned by women; th? number earned by men has remained constant or declined (Garibaldi, 1997).

Consequently, th? proportion ?f master’s and doctoral degrees awarded t? African American students decreased annually from th? mid-1970s until th? mid-1990s (Garibaldi, 1997). Th? Gender Gap ?n African American Students Overall, African American boys and girls underperform relative t? th? U.S. average, but findings are ambiguous about ? gender gap among African American students. Marcon, Randall, ; Brooks (1997) did not find significant gender differences ?n reading achievement, as measured by th? Comprehensive Test ?f Basic Skills, among 248 sixth graders (96% African American) who participated ?n ? prekindergarten-kindergarten intervention program. Similarly, Sojourner and Kushner (1997) found that gender was only marginally predictive ?f reading achievement ?n th? National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS) 1988 and 1990 follow-up databases.Other research, however, suggests ? large gap ?n verbal achievement between African American boys and girls. Dulaney (1995) found that ?n North Carolina, more African American boys than African American girls had unacceptable end-?f-year writing test scores ?n th? fourth, fifth, eighth, and ninth grades.

Findings also conflict about possible gender differences ?n mathematics achievement. Downer-Assaf (1995) examined mathematics achievement ?n th? nationally representative database, NELS, and found no gender differences ?n eighth or tenth grade after controlling for socioeconomic background.Additionally, Sojourner and Kushner (1997) examined whether gender, as well as other variables such as self-concept and socioeconomic status, predicted mathematics achievement as measured by standardized test scores. They analyzed th? 1,868 African American students from th? NELS database who participated ?n th? first follow-up study ?n 1990, and found that gender did not predict mathematics achievement. However, Downer-Assaf (1995) measured mathematics achievement as persistence ?n taking mathematics courses (i.

e. th? number ?f years ?f mathematics taken ?n high school). Her analysis found ? higher percentage ?f African American girls persisted ?n mathematics compared with African American boys. Although about 93% ?f boys and girls took ? math course their first year ?f high school, only 47% ?f girls and 36% ?f boys were likely t? continue t? study math into th? twelfth grade. ?n summary, African American students are falling behind ?n education over th? last thirty years; however, there is room for improvement, especially among African American males.T? solve th? underachievement problem ?f African Americans, more attention must be paid t? th? African American male population. It is important t? understand why they are underachieving.

Th? next section focuses on how and why th? achievement gap develops. Specifically, th? next section examines th? role academic disengagement plays ?n th? achievement gap. Academic Disengagement Recently, researchers have focused on how academic engagement affects race- and gender-related gaps ?n academic achievement rather than falling behind ?n education.Engagement has been studied ?n anthropology, sociology, psychology, and education using various terms, but one definition extends across all these fields: Academic engagement is ? student’s sense ?f connection with academics and his or her valuing ?f academics and related outcomes.

Researchers also have studied th? process ?f diminishing engagement (disengagement). Terms researchers have used for engagement include valuing and identification; terms used for disengagement include disidentification (Steele, 1992) and devaluing.Th? academic engagement model posits that: ?) poor school performance (e.

g. , low grade-point average) leads t? b) an impaired self-view (e. g. , academic self-concept) and c) subsequent opposition t? th? academic environment (e. g.

, outcomes such as completing fewer years ?f school, dropping out, and choosing ? unchallenging curriculum) (Finn, 1989). Most ?f this research has argued that students who are less engaged than other students do not have significantly lower self-esteem because their self-view depends on other factors not necessarily related t? academic achievement.Various researchers (e. g.

, Major & Billson, 1992) have argued that African American male students are particularly vulnerable t? disengagement. Peer-nomination research supports this claim. Graham, Taylor, & Hudley, (1998) argued that if African American middle-school boys were more academically disengaged, then peer nominations would indicate that they would more likely be labeled as disinterested, noncompliant low-achievers. Additionally, they argued, African American boys would be more likely t? respect their low-achieving male counterparts.As expected, African American boys were more likely t? be labeled as low achievers who did “not follow…

school rules” or “try hard. ” Moreover, these boys were aware ?f these negative perceptions. Graham and her colleagues concluded that African American boys were more academically disengaged than their female counterparts. Consistent with Graham and colleagues’ findings, Rodkin, Farmer, Pearl, and Van Acker (2000) found that African American boys were more susceptible t? disengagement than other groups. n ? study ?f 452 fourth- through sixth-grade students, th? authors studied popular boys who were labeled by their peers as “tough” or “model. ” Peers identified “model” boys as cool, athletic, and unaggressive; peers identified “tough” boys as popular, aggressive, and physically competent. Teachers evaluated model boys as being more academic than were th? tough boys.

Th? authors found that African American boys disproportionately nominated “tough” boys as popular, especially when th? respondents were ? numerical minority ?n th? classroom.Wise Schooling Continually emphasizing and reporting th? African American-European American achievement gap hinders academic progress. Steele and Aronson (1995) noted that there was no gap ?n achievement between African American and European American students when th? experiment was framed as testing th? test rather than testing th? student, on ? test for which there are known group differences ?n performance. Instead ?f emphasizing an achievement gap, educational professions must focus more on th? treatment gap.At th? heart ?f this treatment gap is NCLB’s persistence ?n framing ?f achievement within ? race comparative model.

Major & Billson (1992) noted that too much focus is given t? academic outcomes and too little t? academic inputs. By focusing on outcomes, and that African American students tend t? perform worse than European American students, achievements ?f African American students are being framed from ? deficit-oriented perspective. Specifically, achievement is being framed as inferior performance, not inferior treatment.If teachers and administrators start framing these achievement patterns as ? treatment gap, it might cause them t? focus on African American schooling experiences and would remove th? stigma from African American students. This treatment gap is evident because African American students are not valued ?n educational institutions (Steele, 1992). For instance, ? core concept ?f psychology classes has been th? devaluation ?f people ?f African decent. Guthrie (2004) captures this well ?n his book, Even th? Rat Was White: ? Historical View ?f Psychology.

Thus although th? North Carolina Social Studies Standard Course ?f Study (NCSSSCS) notes that “[?]t th? high school level, students need t? encounter multiple opportunities t? examine contemporary patterns ?f human behavior, using methods from th? behavioral sciences t? apply core concepts drawn from psychology, social psychology, sociology, and anthropology as they apply t? individuals, societies, and cultures” (Department ?f Public Instruction, 2002), student opportunities are limited because these core concepts do not sufficiently incorporate th? multicultural components ?f psychology.Students must encounter multiple opportunities t? reexamine and critique th? core concepts ?f fields such as psychology. Thus, African American and other minority high school students still are devalued ?n psychology courses. Psychology teachers should supplement textbooks with writings from psychologists ?f various backgrounds. Ultimately, however, textbooks must be updated before they can be considered an accurate, diverse portrait ?f th? psychology field that provides sufficient opportunities t? examine contemporary behavioral patterns.If African American boys knew that th? contributions ?f Gutherie and other African American male psychologists were valued, they would value th? psychology field more.

Conclusion From th? above discussion it can be concluded that African American students are really falling behind ?n education or not. Why they are falling and how they can improve their academic performance. Eliminating th? effects ?f stereotypes about ability on achievement involves both curricular content and pedagogical implementation (Steele, 1992).According t? self-affirmation theory (th? basis ?f Steele’s research on disengagement), achievement initially relates t? self-esteem, because all students initially value achievement. Because ?f students’ self-protective strategies, however, this relation weakens t? protect students’ self-esteem from negative evaluations (e.

g. , poor grades). (Steele, 1992) posits that African American students are particularly susceptible t? negative evaluations because ?f stereotypes about their intellectual ability. How much th? students’ negative evaluations affect their perceptions ?f their intellectual ability vary (Dweck, 1999).Specifically, how much th? students believe that intellectual ability is ? fixed trait (i.

e. , theories about ability) relates t? how much they believe that negative evaluations represent their ability (Dweck, 1999). References Chavous, Tabbye M. ; Rivas-Drake, Deborah; Smalls, Ciara; Griffin, Tiffany; Cogburn, Courtney. (May 2008).

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