The purpose of this report is to analyze the presence of a link between student achievement and racial/ethnic background. This report will summarize the 4 results of studies conducted from 1997 to 2004, published in educational and psychological journals. The studies examine a tie between test scores, intelligence levels and backgrounds of the students.
The first study examined focuses on the test gains of Ohio students in the state’s eight largest urban schools. The districts that were part of this ex post facto study are represented by the Ohio 8 Coalition: Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown. These districts represent a high percentage of urban poor minority students. The instrument used was the standard statewide tests given in math and reading to 4th and 6th graders throughout Ohio. The study focused on the tests given from 1998-99 to 2003-04 school years. The results of the study demonstrated significant gains by the Ohio 8. The students in seven of the eight districts who took the 4th grade reading test improved by more than the 12 percent gain statewide. Youngstown students jumped a high of 19 percentage points over the cycle of the study. The same is true in the math category for fourth grade test. The average statewide increase was 15 percent; four of the eight schools jumped 20 percentage points, while seven of eight out gained the state. The grade six results mirror the forth grade. Half the urban districts showed a greater reading improvement that the state average. In sixth grade math five of the urban districts beat the state gain of 14 percentage points, with Cleveland improving by 26 percentage points. The Ohio 8 credited professional development, aligned curricula and tutoring as the reasons for their improvements. Administrators from the Ohio 8 side with the long standing environment side of the nature v. nurture debate. The Ohio 8 scores demonstrate how proper technique and application of instruction within federally mandated constraints can still produce extraordinary results. The Ohio 8 test scores apparently do not support a racial/ethnic achievement gap until the study points out that students who attend these urban institutions still fall well behind the state when all academic factors are considered. In reality this study actually reinforces the notion of an achievement gap in the first place by making such a big deal over gains of a very specific limited scope.
The next study examined attempts to determine how the family, the school and the community impact the achievement of minority students. This study was published in 2003. The study used a sample of ninety eight African-American fourth grade children from a medium-sized urban southeastern city. The group was stratified by free/reduced lunch status to incorporate income into the study. The instrument used was an interview by a racially diverse panel using “Likert-type” statements. Responses were simply given as ratings from 1-5, to show the level of agreement with the statement. Students, parents and teachers were all interviewed separately using the same interview statements. The interview was designed to measure three aspects of race/ethnicity: racial pride, racial barriers and racial trust. Community input was established by census information for 10 zip codes in a thirty mile area. The neighborhoods were composed of semirural and urban families. The data collected from the census included college educated residents and African-American residents. This neighborhood data was used a baseline to compare the interviews against. The research findings determined both direct and indirect influences from family, school and community. The study found that college educated parents exhibited a higher range of racial pride that was reflected upon their children. The study also found that neighborhoods with more college...