Students of Color and the Achievement Gap
Eliminating the achievement gap for students of color has been a priority at both the federal and state levels. Issues of cultural relevance, rigor, and belonging are just a few that educators must consider when creating and implementing lessons. On this page you will find an ever-growing archive of articles, tools, and resources focused on effectively teaching these students.
In this episode of Prolepsis, Dr. Theodore Ransaw talks with Crop Physiologist and MSU Professor Dr. Eunice Foster who believes teacher-student relationships and high expectations are vital in closing the achievement gap for African-American males.
As a high school math teacher at a charter school in Boston, I struggled to teach algebra to students with varying levels of math skills. Some entered my classroom still needing to master changing fractions to decimals and percentages, while others were ready to grapple with the quadratic equation, point-slope form and writing linear equations. At this school I was one of two ninth-grade algebra teachers among a team of four math teachers in the building. Through regular dialogue with my colleague Jeff, I learned that he faced similar challenges in his algebra classroom. Together we decided at the end of the first term of the school year to engage in a discussion with the math staff around how to better meet the mathematical learning needs of all of our ninth-grade students. We believed something could be done to correct the teaching and learning challenges in our classrooms before the end of the school year. It was evident to Jeff and me that heterogeneous grouping in the algebra classroom was not working. The inability to provide curricular challenge for higher performers was affecting student engagement and motivation, and the inability to adequately support struggling students (due to lack of time and resources) was impacting students’ self-efficacy in math and overall academic self-confidence.
In this episode of Prolepsis, Dr. Theodore Ransaw talks with Dr. William Schmidt who believes common standards and high expectations for all students are essential in closing the achievement gap for African-American males.
When we talk about race, race matters; when we don’t talk about race, race matters. This is one of several arguments that educational researcher Mica Pollock makes in her book, Colormute, to underscore many educators’ inability to talk explicitly about race in meaningful ways in schools. Her statement highlights our need to acknowledge and respond to the ways in which race isdiscussed in schools and the silence around race in learning spaces – both of which can have adverse effects on the schooling experiences and life outcomes of the young people we serve. I believe data dialogues can provide opportunities for school leaders and staff to more accurately frame data discussions and address equity issues in schooling by culturally situating these conversations. You might ask, “What does this mean?”
In this episode of Prolepsis, Dr. Theodore Ransaw talks with Dr. Theresa Saunders from the Michigan Department of Education about how she would envision a classroom of the future that has no achievement gap for African-American males.