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ERIC Number: EJ1105741
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Mar
Closing the Achievement Gap Means Transformation
Colgren, Chris; Sappington, Neil E.
Education Leadership Review of Doctoral Research, v2 n1 p24-33 Mar 2015
Educating students in public schools has never been at a higher priority. As this nation enters the informational-based economy public schools are going to be required to educate far more students at a higher and more rigorous level. Inspired by theories of educational equity, this study sought to explore the problem that not all students in Illinois public schools are achieving at high levels. In doing so, secondary data from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) was used to assess the differences between students who have completed Advanced Placement (AP) courses and those who have not in traditional Illinois public high schools. Specifically, the researcher examined the course placement and standardized test score performance of students across the state of Illinois. The data set included information on 145,560 Illinois high school students eligible to complete the ACT during the 2012-2013 school year. Alongside participation in AP courses, students' socioeconomic status and race were considered in analyzing the data. Participation in the National School Lunch Program was used to define low-income status for the purposes of the study. Using a cross-sectional survey design, the study used secondary data from the Illinois State Board of Education indicating high school students' socioeconomic status, race, placement in AP courses, and ACT scores to answer five research questions that reflected a general understanding of tracking policies and practices as currently employed in American public schools. The statistical technique known as analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to examine the relationship and differences between students who completed AP courses and those who did not in Illinois public high schools. The observed effect sizes suggested participation in AP courses is important in all students' educational outcomes and, thus, increasing student exposure to AP courses will likely improve ACT scores. In addition to demonstrating the merits of participating in rigorous courses, data from the Illinois State Board of Education exposed common inequities related to students' access to AP courses. Low-income students and children of color across the state of Illinois were statistically underrepresented in AP classes during the 2012-2013 school year. The fact that the courses most revered under the current construct of schooling did more to benefit non low-income and White students than they did to benefit low-income and Black and Latino students suggests that equality in educational opportunities is not limited to the access of particular courses, but also how curriculum and instruction are delivered within these courses. To this end, educators must recognize that low-income students and children of color are marginalized as a result of traditional schooling practices. They cannot continue to allow the cultural formations of the students they serve to influence their judgments about the intellectual capabilities of these children, particularly those from families of low socioeconomic status and color.
Descriptors: Achievement Gap, Educational Change, Public Schools, Advanced Placement, High School Students, Standardized Tests, Scores, College Entrance Examinations, College Readiness, Socioeconomic Status, Race, Lunch Programs, Educational Policy, Educational Practices, Statistical Analysis, Academic Achievement, Low Income Students, Minority Group Students, African American Students, Hispanic American Students, White Students, Racial Differences, Equal Education, Access to Education, Disadvantaged, Culturally Relevant Education, Disproportionate Representation
NCPEA Publications. Available from: National Council of Professors of Educational Administration. Web site: http://www.ncpeapublications.org/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: ACT Assessment