Causality of the Racial Educational Achievement Gap Noe Gonzalez WRC 1023 Ellen Walroth 18 February 2010 Causality of the Racial Educational Achievement Gap Research shows that on average, there is an educational gap between different ethnicities. This gap is called the racial educational achievement gap and is often looked at as the difference in education between black, hispanic, and white students. Even though this gap is not true in all situations, it is a big enough problem that several organizations have taken extensive research to find out exactly what causes the racial achievement gap.
Pinpointing the cause however is difficult because many factors contribute to the racial achievement gap. The more outstanding of these factors include poverty, the students environment, and family involvement. Before anyone can start reversing the racial achievement gap we must first define the causes in detail. From common knowledge everyone knows that money fuels education by building schools, buying better teaching equipment, and creating a higher teacher to student ratio. Unfortunately, many minorities live in poverty and cannot afford these commodities.
One example to consider would be the George Washington Community School, with a large percentage of minorities the school serves 874 students in grades seven through 12, and almost 90 percent of them qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2008). Before George Washington Community school was founded, the school they took the place of maintained a very low 30 percent graduation rate (2008). Other schools of low income minorities show similar educational achievement gaps.
Even with poverty stricken minority communities like the one George Washington Community school is in, there are ways to shorten the racial achievement gap. One such way is by creating out of school activities to encourage students to learn and stay in school. This along with the help of the community have changed the the graduation rate greatly. From 30 percent before George Washington Community school was established to 70 percent in 2007 (2008). The environment students grow up in influence the student education.
If the students environment is negative towards education, like it is for many minorities, then it will discourage the student to learn. An example of a hostile environment would be Harlem, a community with a high crime rate. Education suffers in Harlem when students risk there lives to gunfire every time they walk to school. However, even Harlem has hope to decrease the racial achievement gap. The Harlem Children’s Zone, with its high percentage of black students, has decreased this gap greatly by changing the students environment to suite a learning environment.
Their results are nothing more of miraculous when considering this statistic The typical student before entering the Harlem Children’s Zone middle school was outscoring only about 20 percent of New York City’s white students in math, but after three years in the charter, was outscoring 45 percent of white students (Robelen, E. 2009). The family a student is brought up by is a another cause for the racial education achievement gap. Family plays important roles in a students life because students are thought to learn at a young age by families.
If a parent strives to create a desire to learn for a child at a young age he or she will continue that into school. Because this relationship is crucial to closing the racial educational achievement gap, many schools with a high minority rate encourage family oriented programs. More than half of the students in the San Diego district are minorities. To decrease the racial achievement gap one may target the families of minorities like Casey did by investing $800,000 over four years to support a district-lead effort to foster parent engagement to improve communication between parents and schools (Annie E.
Casey Foundation, 2008). According to the articles, the causes for the racial achievement gap are clearly stated to be low income, environment, and family influence of a student. Once the cause to this gap was found the solution became clear. The statistics used for the racial achievement gap for McKinsey is quite extensive, but McKinsey does not give proper cause to what creates the racial educational achievement gap. When McKinsey introduced the gap he described it as On average, black and Latino students are roughly two to three years of learning behind white students of the same age (McKinsey, 2009).
McKinsey used graphs varying from the black to white gap of different states to the NAEP test scores of average reading and math of white, Latino, and black students. Using their own graphs McKinsey draws conclusions to support the racial achievement gap. However, McKinsey never explained why the conclusions he drew were valid. For example, McKinsey draws the conclusion that in Texas, low-income black students have the same average score on the fourth grade NAEP as low-income white students in Alabama (McKinsey, 2009).
After stating this McKinsey just assumes that his reader believes the information in front of him even though there is only numbers as proof and no cause. An example of a cause McKinsey could of used would be: education systems in Texas have family based programs that help minorities. McKinsey states the reason for not including causes as, inconsistencies in how data are gathered and reported make it difficult to understand the factors shaping the achievement gaps at the system level.
This hinders policy makers and educators in their pursuit of better outcomes (McKinsey, 2009). With this statement McKinsey implies that causes to their data can only lower the ability for someone to change the racial achievement gap. This statement completely wrong however, without a cause one may not start on creating a solution. McKinsey, by avoiding stating a cause for the gap has only lowered the use and merit of their data. The claim I have made for the causality of the racial achievement gap might be challenged by McKinsey as not valid.
For instance McKinsey’s information is gathered by many sources on a large scale, so they contain a large average of statistics on the U. S. While the Statistics to support my claims are only select and small examples to the racial achievement gap. Although I do not support my claims to the causality of the racial achievement gap with large scale data, I do support it with situations where people were able to overcome and decrease the educational gap for minorities. The only way these people were able to overcome the gap was because they identified the cause.
For an example we can consider community schools, which are: public schools that are enhanced by coordinated partnerships with organizations the provide diverse activities and programs for students, families, and community members (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2008). Community schools were created to target the family influence of the racial educational achievement gap. Family can also be looked at as a cause to the gap because, by creating programs for families Community schools have helped close the educational achievement gap.
The general causes to the racial educational achievement gap are family influence, student environment, and poverty. These causes are supported by Annie E. Casey Foundation and Robelen, E in their articles. McKinsey proves the racial achievement gap exists with data but never gives a cause to why the data McKinsey states is valid. McKinsey stated that they avoided talking about causes because it would set back those who are trying to change the racial achievement gap. Without a cause those who want to change the gap are not just set back but have no way of starting.
Decreasing this gap is vital because, the decrease in the education for minors restricts our country as a whole to prosper.
Robelen, E. (2009). Study of Harlem Children’s Zone Finds Achievement Gaps Closing. Education Week, 29(12), 9. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database. Annie E. Casey Foundation, B. (2008). School, Community, Family Connections. Closing the Achievement Gap Series. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Retrieved from ERIC database. McKinsey ; Company. (2009) The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools. Summary of Findings. Social Sector Office.