Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Standards and Achievement

Issues regarding academic standards and achievement gaps continue to draw widespread attention for those concerned about educational challenges facing students of color in general.

Tony Barboza’s recent article Santa Ana Seeks to Ease High School Graduation Requirements, for instance, addresses a proposal to lower the number of required graduation credits in a school district in California. Lowering the number of credits might help alleviate some problems with dropout rates.

However, a proposal to decrease credits could raise debates, especially for underrepresented students who often become the subject of debates related to “lower standards.”

Tamar Lewin’s article Blacks Less Likely to Take A.P. Exam addresses ongoing struggles in the educational system across the country, particularly with black students not enrolling in AP classes. “As in most aspects of American education,” Lewin noted, “troubling ethnic gaps remain. African-Americans are seriously underrepresented in the A.P. program, and no state has yet closed that gap, said Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board.”

It’s likely that the financial hardships faced by black students influences this “troubling ethnic gap.” It’s also possible that larger cultural factors lead many African American students to believe that they can not achieve in the AP classes.

--Massinga, Smith, and Rambsy

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