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Closing the Race Gap in College Readiness Amy Ellen Schwartz Director, Institute for Education and Social Policy Professor of Public Policy, Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Closing the Race Gap in College Readiness Amy Ellen Schwartz Director, Institute for Education and Social Policy Professor of Public Policy, Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Closing the Race Gap in College Readiness Amy Ellen Schwartz Director, Institute for Education and Social Policy Professor of Public Policy, Education and Economics New York University Keynote Address College Board Annual Leadership Colloquium February 27, 2009

2 Overview What do we know about Black-White gap? What does the research show about causes and solutions? Potential policy levers for schools and school districts Directions for Future Research and Exploration Conclusions

3 Black-white test score gap persists Achievement gap between Black and white students closed over 1970s and 1980s, but progress has slowed and possibly reversed Four-year graduation rate for white students is 76%, compared to 55% for Black students (U.S. DOE, 2008) Black-white gap in college attendance has remained steady for over three decades (U.S. DOE, 2008)

4 Disparities Within and Across School Districts Significant disparities across school districts Also large differences across schools within districts Our research reveals large performance gaps between Black students in mostly Black schools and White students in mostly White schools. Efforts at Integration and School Finance Equalization only partially effective.

5 Disparities Within Schools Important Our work has also shown that there are significant gaps in performance between Blacks and Whites in the same schools In the same classrooms And, these disparities are significant both at 5 th grade, as students enter middle school and at 8 th grade as they enter high school. “High School Readiness” gap sets the stage for a college readiness gap.

6 Can Public Schools Close the Gap? Schools are important but they cannot do it alone. Many other things shape college readiness, going and success: –Health care and nutrition –Poverty –Housing and neighborhoods –Libraries and community centers –Families and communities. Partnerships can be critical. That said, schools can make a difference.

7 Evidence is Limited Unfortunately, research on closing the achievement gap among high school students is fairly limited. Why? Mirrors the scarcity of rigorous research on efficacy of interventions, consequences of reforms, etc., more broadly. Much is descriptive or suggestive. Often focuses on early grades - but policy cannot focus similarly. –Current 6-12 students deserve better. –Student Mobility means that many high school students attended early grades in a different district!

8 What can schools do to close the gap? Create the conditions for success: –Attendance –Discipline –Interpersonal relationships –Offer alternative school choices – one size may not fit all. Provide the Roadmap to Success: –College Requirements –Courses Needed, Sequencing –PSAT/SAT/AP Engage Parents and Communities in supporting students.

9 What can schools do to close the gap? Provide the Necessary Resources: –Teachers –Academically Advanced Courses –OST – extracurricular activities, summer opportunities Provide Information and Assistance –Costs, Financial aid, Applications –College Options Effectively Use Data –To guide students, target resources, intervene early –To monitor programs and identify successful interventions

10 Improving Attendance Attendance policies promising because easy to monitor and change can be implemented fairly quickly –Policy changes alone may not be sufficient –attendance problems may indicate other family/life challenges Potential policy levers –Track attendance closely, respond quickly to every absence –Incentives for improved attendance –Improved communication between school staff and parents about causes of absenteeism

11 Reducing Disciplinary disruption Discipline problems often sign of problems at home or school; –engage mentors, families, social services to address underlying causes Explicitly inform students about classroom policies; fair and consistent enforcement “Minimum tolerance” policies (rather than zero tolerance) Mandatory alternative educational opportunities for student offenders

12 Recruit teachers who are: Highly qualified and well-trained –Race May Matter (Role models, expectations) How? –Salaries, maybe higher in high needs schools? –Professional development/mentoring for new teachers –Alternative forms of teacher certification –Prepare teachers specifically to teach in high-needs schools

13 Provide Necessary Courses and Information Academically advanced courses e.g., college preparatory courses, advanced placement and gifted and talented programs Opportunities to combine academic and vocational curricula Information on college options, application processes and financial aid Opportunities and incentives such as PSAT/NMSQT and SAT policies Supplementary academic and extracurricular support

14 Provide academically advanced courses We know that students in poorer communities have less access to demanding coursework –But evidence suggests Black students with access to challenging courses often perform well, especially with academic/social supports Key is to prepare students for academically challenging courses, offer the courses, and support them in their efforts. Don’t rule out combining academic rigor with career related material. (Career academies promising.)

15 Increase opportunities to take college entrance exams Another important step toward college readiness is completing college entrance exams: –PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, ACT Multiple Benefits: –Signal to students that they are capable of college-level work –Increases prospects for college admission –Offers access to resources (view score reports, obtain study plans, connect to college profiles) –Colleges may reach out to students!

16 Promising Evidence Emerging Evidence from Florida and Maryland suggests subsidizing tests increases test-taking. NYC began offering free PSAT/NMSQT on school day –Participation rates jumped from 31% of 10 th and 11 th graders to 75% in one year; even higher now. Other states experimenting – i.e., Maine

17 Offer structural options such as: Small learning environments Theme schools Single-sex schools Charter schools

18 Engage parents and communities in supporting students Parents can foster achievement through support, involvement, high expectations Neighborhoods and communities matter critically in the services and support available: –After school, extra curricular activities –Summer programs –Libraries –Health –Nutrition

19 Use data to monitor and identify successful interventions Student- and school-level data Longitudinal data – P16? Monitor student progress, evaluate existing programs and reforms Statistics don’t speak for themselves! Guidance/training on how to obtain, interpret and use data is critical Make data available to students and teach them how to use it; web based services are promising.

20 Summary More research is needed –Evidence is very limited; suggestive rather than conclusive. – Innovations and reforms should be evaluated independently and the results need to be disseminated. Several feasible, relatively low-cost policy options emerge: –Provide more information on college going, college requirements, preparation –Free/subsidized college entrance exams –Improved attendance policies These will serve students of all backgrounds.

21 Closing the gap in college readiness and success will mean focusing on how and why students go to good schools – not just elite schools. Early interventions are good – but not nearly enough. Understand differences in parental aspirations and culture and work with them, not against them. Last Thoughts

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