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Al Ramirez Dick M. Carpenter II University of Colorado, Colorado Springs The Under-Achievement Gap: What It Is and Why You Should Care.

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Presentation on theme: "Al Ramirez Dick M. Carpenter II University of Colorado, Colorado Springs The Under-Achievement Gap: What It Is and Why You Should Care."— Presentation transcript:

1 Al Ramirez Dick M. Carpenter II University of Colorado, Colorado Springs The Under-Achievement Gap: What It Is and Why You Should Care

2 What is it? A growing number of students arguably qualified and able to attend college choose not to—what we call the… under-achievement gap

3 Are these national trends a cause for concern? The rate of college enrollment immediately after high school completion increased from 49 percent in 1972 to 67 percent by 1997, but has since fluctuated between 62 and 69 percent. About 58 percent of first-time students seeking a bachelor's degree or its equivalent and attending a 4-year institution full time in 2000-01 completed a bachelor's degree or its equivalent at that institution within 6 years. The percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds completing a bachelor's degree or higher increased from 17 to 29 percent between 1971 and 2000 and was 31 percent in 2008. Women accounted for 57 percent of the bachelor's degrees and 62 percent of all associate’s degrees awarded in the 2006-07 academic year. Source, The Condition of Education. National Center for Educational Statistics

4 Why should you care? While policy makers and school leaders have attended to conventional achievement gaps, the under-achievement gap has received comparably scant attention. The loss for communities, states, and the nation are great in economic, social, and civic terms. The decision to attend post-secondary education is ultimately the student’s decision, but K-12 schools can play a part in facilitating college matriculation.

5 About today This presentation is about cutting-edge research on causes of the under-achievement gap But we also want to know about your insights about the causes and what schools could do to address the Under-Achievement Gap

6 Our past related research Part I – Achievement Gap Study We used National Educational Longitudinal Survey data We focused on mathematics as the outcome variable We compared White, African American and Hispanic students Part II – Drop Out Study We used National Educational Longitudinal Survey data We focused on dropout behavior as the outcome variable We compared White, African American and Hispanic students

7 Part I Study Findings The “achievement gap” really consists of “multiple gaps” that exist both between and within groups. Socioeconomic status and participation in ESL were the most significant factors for all groups of students. Latino and white student achievement reflected similar differences based on urbanicity. Latino students who spoke English at home, who had never been enrolled in an ESL class, who came from intact families, and who spent more time on homework demonstrated higher levels of academic achievement than Latino students who did not share these characteristics. These relationships were similar for white students, but the same did not hold true for black students. Socioeconomic background, experience in an ESL class, units of algebra, and level of parent involvement had a similar impact on the achievement of both white and Latino students. Hours of homework were not a good predictor of student achievement for Latino students, while this variable was a good predictor for both black students and white students. While the differences we found between white students and Latino students were not significant, the differences between black students and white students and between black students and Latino students were significant. Race and ethnicity were not significant predictor variables

8 Part II Study Findings Results from Part II indicated two common predictors for all three groups—being held back and number of suspensions. Hispanic and White students showed three additional predictors in common—time spent on homework, gender, and family composition. White and Black students share only one common predictor beyond suspensions and being held back, parental involvement. Black and Hispanic students share no additional common predictors. Finally, race/ethnicity generally proved not to be a significant predictor of dropping out. We conclude that gaps within groups may be more significant than those between groups.

9 Significant Variables Related to Dropping Out by Group Predictor Variables White Black Hispanic Gender (female) + ø + More minority students in school + ø ø Parent involvement < < ø Participated in ESL ø + ø Two-parent family < ø < Has been held back + + + Number of times suspended + + + Units of Algebra I ø ø < Higher 10th-grade math score < ø ø Other siblings who have dropped out + ø ø Gang activity in school + ø ø Ever in a dropout prevention program ø ø + Hours of extracurricular activities < ø ø Time spent on homework < ø < Key: < = decreases dropout behavior; + = increases dropout behavior; ø = not a significant factor

10 Part III Under-Achievement Gap The sample was limited only to those students in the third and fourth quartiles of the SES variable. In other words, those students who enjoy capital-rich environments and who would logically be expected to attend post-secondary institutions. The total sample size for this study was 5,513; black n=390, Hispanic n=425; white n=4,698. The dependent variable was whether the student was enrolled in a postsecondary institution in the third wave of NELS data collection

11 Part III Under-Achievement Gap Overall Finding The examination of significant predictors of post- secondary enrollment showed there were no common significant predictors among the groups.

12 Significant predictor variables for Black students Number of friends who plan to attend 2-year college Number of friends who plan to attend 4-year college Ever held back Percent of students in school that attend programs on college application procedures Percent of students in school that attend programs on financial aid Students in school place high priority on learning

13 Significant predictor variables for Latino students Hours spent working during the week Received help at school filling out financial aid application Percent of prior graduating class attending 4-year college

14 Significant predictor variables for White students School assists 12 th graders with college applications Student post high school expectations How often student discusses going to college with parents Math score Best friend’s desire for student after high school Took or plans to take ACT/SAT

15 Analysis of the entire sample Race/ethnicity was not one of them. When taking other factors into account, student race/ethnicity does not significantly predict whether one attends post-secondary education. WhiteHispanicBlackTotal 85%80%82%85% Percentages of students that enroll in post-secondary education

16 Summary and conclusions Although student/family variables are important, secondary schools can significantly influence the post-secondary enrollment decision. Despite the “capital-rich” backgrounds, students appear to benefit most from programs or interventions that assist students in some of the more basic functions—such as completing applications. Therefore, to the extent that schools design and implement elaborate programs to facilitate college-going, schools should not lose sight of the basics. The absence of certain variables in the lists above are also noteworthy. First, almost none of the variables that proved significant in our first two studies were significant here. The dynamics of achievement or completion are not necessarily the dynamics of college enrollment. Second, certain context variables that prove important in other discussions of achievement are not influential here, specifically school type (public versus private), family composition, or urbanicty. Finally, although some studies appear to give great weight to parental aspirations and expectations for students, they prove non-significant here. Thus, conventional wisdom may not be the best guide for narrowing the under-achievement gap.

17 What do you think? Are these finding consistent with your professional experience? Do the group differences and similarities reconcile with your experience in your school? What works in your school or school district to promote post-secondary school enrollment?

18 Research presented in this presentation Ramirez, A. & Carpenter, D. (2005). Challenging assumptions about the achievement gap. Phi Delta Kappan, 86 (8), 599-603. Carpenter, D., Ramirez, A. & Severn, L. (2006). Gap or gaps: Challenging the singular definition of the achievement gap. Education and Urban Society, 39(1), 113-12. Carpenter, D. & Ramirez, A. (2007). More than one gap: Dropout rate gaps between and among Black, Hispanic, and White Students. Journal of Advanced Academics. 19(1), 32- 64 Ramirez, A. & Carpenter, D. (2009). Challenging Assumptions About the Achievement Gap Part Two: The Matter of Dropouts. Phi Delta Kappan. 90(9), 656-659.

19 Thank you! Get in touch if you have other questions or comments:

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