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ERIC Number: EJ898347
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2001
Pages: 68
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1096-2719
A Diagnostic Analysis of Black-White GPA Disparities in Shaker Heights, Ohio
Ferguson, Ronald F.
Brookings Papers on Education Policy, p347-414 2001
This quantitative case study explores how race, family background, attitudes, and behaviors are related to achievement disparities among middle school and high school students in Shaker Heights, Ohio. The purpose is to inform the search for ways of raising achievement and reducing disparities. The focal measure of achievement in this study is the student's grade point average (GPA) from the most recently completed semester. The data for the study come from a survey developed by John H. Bishop at Cornell University that was administered in Shaker Heights at the end of the spring semester in 1999. Six key findings and interpretations resulted from analysis of the data. First, the characteristics of black and white youth in Shaker Heights that predict black-white GPA differences implicate skills, much more than effort, as the main reasons for the GPA gap. Second, compared with white classmates, blacks report spending as much (or more) time doing homework, but a lower rate of homework completion. Third, attitudes and behaviors are more important for predicting within-race than between-race GPA disparities. Fourth, to think clearly about achievement gaps, it is important to distinguish: (a) what children know in terms of their stock of academic knowledge; (b) the pace at which they learn new things to add to the stock; (c) their knowledge of techniques and strategies that help them to learn effectively and efficiently and to manage the pace of new learning; (d) the effort that the individual chooses (or is required) to devote to the process; and (e) how individual-level variations in all of these depend on group-level characteristics, resources, and processes. Fifth, all segments of the school community report negative peer pressures. Sixth, honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses may be socially isolating for black students, which may diminish the degree to which black students aspire to take such courses. In conclusion, the study finds no clear evidence that black students in Shaker Heights are any more opposed to achievement, any less satisfied with school, or any less interested in their studies than their white counterparts--especially those who have similar family backgrounds. Comments by Jens Ludwig and Wilbur Rich are included. (Contains 1 figure, 16 tables, and 70 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Ohio