Can the Achievement Gaps be Overcome?
In their report, Reaching the Top: Report of the National Task Force on Minority High Achievement, the College Board reviews the research and programs since the 1960s that target raising minority achievement. They create a synopsis of what we know, based on 30 years of experience, about raising the number of high-achieving minority students.
This reports some of the ideas and findings from the following source:
Miller, L. S. (1999).Reaching the top: Report of the National Task Force on Minority High Achievement.The College Board. Retrieved April 2, 2002 from http://www.collegeboard.com/repository/reachingthe_3952.pdf (Adobe® Reader® PDF)
To see other reports that originated from this same citation, go to the bibliography.
Black, Hispanic, and Native American minorities are dramatically underrepresented among the nation's highest academic achievers. Across all social class groups, these minorities do not achieve high academic success nearly as often as their white and Asian-American counterparts.
L. Scott Miller reviews the programs and research since the 1960s regarding high minority academic achievement. He describes what we have learned from programs and research over this period in a number of areas.
Miller says that supplementary education programs are the formal and informal learning opportunities that students have outside the school day. He says that there has been an increasing use of these types of programs as a way to enhance student achievement.
Miller says that supplementary programs have been in place for many years. They are sponsored by a wide range of institutions: schools, churches, and civic organizations. However, he says, remarkably few of these supplementary programs have been rigorously evaluated. We know, though, that the highest achieving groups have developed networks of supplemental programs that Miller says can best be described as parallel education systems.
Increasing amounts of government monies have been directed into supplementary programs—such as after-school programs. However, as with many other programs, the focus has been on helping disadvantaged students. Miller says that raising minority high achievement may require an extensive use of these kinds of programs, not only for disadvantaged students but for more advantaged minority students as well.
Miller says that much attention has been given to minority representation in higher education. However, he says, the focus has been primarily on entrance and graduation rates. Very little attention has been devoted to minority high achievement in college.
Miller says that this is a grievous oversight. Research indicates that even minority students who are well-prepared do not do as well in college as their white or Asian counterparts. Scores on college entrance exams tend to "overestimate" how well minority students will perform in college. That is, even when white and black students have the same entrance exam scores, the college academic performance of black students tends to be worse than the performance of white students—especially at historically white and elite colleges.
Miller believes, however, that higher education programs designed to facilitate very high minority achievement show promise. While few have been rigorously evaluated, evidence seems to show that they can make a difference if they are well designed and implemented.
Miller also recognizes that the repeal of affirmative-action policies in some states makes instituting programs of this sort complicated. However, he says, there are examples of programs that foster very high achievement among college students that serve broader segments of the student population (including whites and Asians).
Miller asserts that Americans have a moral obligation to expand public and private investment in African American, Hispanic and Native American academic achievement. He also asserts that a major part of this investment should be focused on fostering high academic achievement among these groups—not merely settling for average achievement.
What are the patterns of minority high academic achievement?
What can be done to foster high academic achievement for minority groups?
What has been done in the way of educational programs to foster high academic achievement for minority groups?
Miller writes a programmatic piece. His goal is to draw on existing research to argue that more can and should be done to foster high minority academic achievement.
The College Board.
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