This innovative portrait of student life in an urban high school focuses on the academic success of African-American students, exploring the symbolic role of academic achievement within the Black community and investigating the price students pay for attaining it. Signithia Fordham's richly detailed ethnography reveals a deeply rooted cultural system that favors egalitarianism and group cohesion over the individualistic, competitive demands of academic success and sheds new light on the sources of academic performance. She also details the ways in which the achievements of sucessful African-Americans are "blacked out" of the public imagination and negative images are reflected onto black adolescents. A self-proclaimed "native" anthropologist, she chronicles the struggle of African-American students to construct an identity suitable to themselves, their peers, and their families within an arena of colliding ideals. This long-overdue contribution is of crucial importance to educators, policymakers, and ethnographers.
Closing the Education Achievement Gaps for African American Males is a research-based tool to improve the schooling experience of African American males. Editors Theodore S. Ransaw and Richard Majors draw together a collection of writings that provide much-needed engagement with issues of gender and identity for black males, as well as those of culture, media, and technology, in the context of education.
The distinguished and expert contributors whose work comprises this volume include an achievement-gap specialist for males of color, two psychologists, a math teacher, an electrical engineer, a former school principal, a social worker, and a former human rights commissioner. From black male learning styles to STEM, this book shows that issues pertaining to educational outcomes for black males are nuanced and complex but not unsolvable.
With its combination of fresh new approaches to closing achievement gaps and up-to-date views on trends, this volume is an invaluable resource on vital contemporary social and educational issues that aims to improve learning, equity, and access for African American males.
American students vary in educational achievement, but white students in general typically have better test scores and grades than black students. Why is this the case, and what can school leaders do about it? In The Color of Mind, Derrick Darby and John L. Rury answer these pressing questions and show that we cannot make further progress in closing the achievement gap until we understand its racist origins.
Telling the story of what they call the Color of Mind—the idea that there are racial differences in intelligence, character, and behavior—they show how philosophers, such as David Hume and Immanuel Kant, and American statesman Thomas Jefferson, contributed to the construction of this pernicious idea, how it influenced the nature of schooling and student achievement, and how voices of dissent such as Frederick Douglass, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and W. E. B. Du Bois debunked the Color of Mind and worked to undo its adverse impacts.
Rejecting the view that racial differences in educational achievement are a product of innate or cultural differences, Darby and Rury uncover the historical interplay between ideas about race and American schooling, to show clearly that the racial achievement gap has been socially and institutionally constructed. School leaders striving to bring justice and dignity to American schools today must work to root out the systemic manifestations of these ideas within schools, while still doing what they can to mitigate the negative effects of poverty, segregation, inequality, and other external factors that adversely affect student achievement. While we cannot expect schools alone to solve these vexing social problems, we must demand that they address the dignitary injustices associated with how we track, discipline, and deal with special education that reinforce long-standing racist ideas. That is the only way to expel the Color of Mind from schools, close the racial achievement gap, and afford all children the dignity they deserve.
Educating a Diverse Nation
Clifton Conrad Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress LC3727.C635 2015 | Dewey Decimal 378.19820973
Educating a Diverse Nation turns a spotlight on colleges and universities dedicated to serving minority and low-income students of all ages. It highlights innovative programs that are advancing persistence and learning, and it identifies specific strategies for empowering nontraditional students to succeed despite many obstacles.
While recruitment efforts toward men of color have increased at many colleges and universities, their retention and graduation rates still lag behind those of their white peers. Men of color, particularly black and Latino men, face a number of unique challenges in their educational careers that often impact their presence on campus and inhibit their collegiate success. Empowering Men of Color on Campus examines how men of color negotiate college through their engagement in Brothers for United Success (B4US), an institutionally-based male-centered program at a Hispanic Serving Institution. Derrick R. Brooms, Jelisa Clark, and Matthew Smith introduce the concept of educational agency, which is harbored in cultural wealth and demonstrates how ongoing B4US engagement empowers the men’s efforts and abilities to persist in college. They found that the cultural wealth(s) of the community enhanced the students’ educational agency, which bolstered their academic aspirations, academic and social engagement, and personal development. The authors demonstrate how educational agency and cultural wealth can be developed and refined given salient and meaningful immersions, experiences, engagements, and communal connections.
Working mothers, broken homes, poverty, racial or ethnic background, poorly educated parents—these are the usual reasons given for the academic problems of poor urban children. Reginald M. Clark contends, however, that such structural characteristics of families neither predict nor explain the wide variation in academic achievement among children. He emphasizes instead the total family life, stating that the most important indicators of academic potential are embedded in family culture.
To support his contentions, Clark offers ten intimate portraits of Black families in Chicago. Visiting the homes of poor one- and two-parent families of high and low achievers, Clark made detailed observations on the quality of home life, noting how family habits and interactions affect school success and what characteristics of family life provide children with "school survival skills," a complex of behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge that are the essential elements in academic success.
Clark's conclusions lead to exciting implications for educational policy. If school achievement is not dependent on family structure or income, parents can learn to inculcate school survival skills in their children. Clark offers specific suggestions and strategies for use by teachers, parents, school administrators, and social service policy makers, but his work will also find an audience in urban anthropology, family studies, and Black studies.
How Girls Achieve
Sally A. Nuamah Harvard University Press, 2019 Library of Congress LC1481.N83 2019 | Dewey Decimal 371.82
This bold and necessary book points out a simple and overlooked truth: most schools never had girls in mind to begin with. That is why the world needs what Sally Nuamah calls feminist schools, deliberately designed to provide girls with achievement-oriented identities. And she shows why doing so would help all students, regardless of their gender.
In Identity Politics of Difference, author Michelle R. Montgomery uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine questions of identity construction and multiracialism through the experiences of mixed-race Native American students at a tribal school in New Mexico. She explores the multiple ways in which these students navigate, experience, and understand their racial status and how this status affects their educational success and social interactions.
Montgomery contextualizes students’ representations of their racial identity choices through the compounded race politics of blood quantum and stereotypes of physical features, showing how varying degrees of "Indianness" are determined by peer groups. Based on in-depth interviews with nine students who identify as mixed-race (Native American–White, Native American–Black, and Native American–Hispanic), Montgomery challenges us to scrutinize how the category of “mixed-race” bears different meanings for those who fall under it based on their outward perceptions, including their ability to "pass" as one race or another.
Identity Politics of Difference includes an arsenal of policy implications for advancing equity and social justice in tribal colleges and beyond and actively engages readers to reflect on how they have experienced the identity politics of race throughout their own lives. The book will be a valuable resource to scholars, policy makers, teachers, and school administrators, as well as to students and their families.
Kids Don't Want to Fail
Angel L. Harris Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress LC2717.H37 2011 | Dewey Decimal 371.82996073
Kids Don’t Want to Fail uses empirical evidence to refute the widely accepted hypothesis that the black-white achievement gap in secondary schools is due to a cultural resistance to schooling in the black community. The author finds that inadequate elementary school preparation—not negative attitude—accounts for black students’ underperformance.
Learning a New Land
Carola Suárez-Orozco Harvard University Press, 2008 Library of Congress LC3746.S83 2008 | Dewey Decimal 371.8269120973
One child in five in America is the child of immigrants, and their numbers increase each year. Based on an extraordinary interdisciplinary study that followed 400 newly arrived children from the Caribbean, China, Central America, and Mexico for five years, this book provides a compelling account of the lives, dreams, academic journeys, and frustrations of these youngest immigrants.
An avalanche of recent newspapers, weekly newsmagazines, scholarly journals, and academic books has helped to spark a heated debate by publishing warnings of a “boy crisis” in which male students at all academic levels have begun falling behind their female peers. In Learning the Hard Way, Edward W. Morris explores and analyzes detailed ethnographic data on this purported gender gap between boys and girls in educational achievement at two low-income high schools—one rural and predominantly white, the other urban and mostly African American. Crucial questions arose from his study of gender at these two schools. Why did boys tend to show less interest in and more defiance toward school? Why did girls significantly outperform boys at both schools? Why did people at the schools still describe boys as especially “smart”?
Morris examines these questions and, in the process, illuminates connections of gender to race, class, and place. This book is not simply about the educational troubles of boys, but the troubled and complex experience of gender in school. It reveals how particular race, class, and geographical experiences shape masculinity and femininity in ways that affect academic performance. His findings add a new perspective to the “gender gap” in achievement.
The Parent-Child Home Program, a pre-preschool home visiting program, has grown greatly since the first edition of Messages from Home was published in 1988. This expanded and updated edition shows the continued success of this program-spearheaded by the late Phyllis Levenstein-which prepares at-risk children for school success, overcoming educational disadvantage.
Since The Parent-Child Home Program was founded in the 1960s, it has enriched the cognitive, social, and emotional school readiness of tens of thousands of children. The Program's methods, its theoretical underpinnings, and its impressive results are presented in detail. The success stories of both parents and children make inspiring reading. The combination of lively writing and data-driven scientific rigor give it both broad appeal and academic relevance.
Achievement tests play an important role in modern societies. They are used to evaluate schools, to assign students to tracks within schools, and to identify weaknesses in student knowledge. The GED is an achievement test used to grant the status of high school graduate to anyone who passes it. GED recipients currently account for 12 percent of all high school credentials issued each year in the United States. But do achievement tests predict success in life?
The Myth of Achievement Tests shows that achievement tests like the GED fail to measure important life skills. James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, Tim Kautz, and a group of scholars offer an in-depth exploration of how the GED came to be used throughout the United States and why our reliance on it is dangerous. Drawing on decades of research, the authors show that, while GED recipients score as well on achievement tests as high school graduates who do not enroll in college, high school graduates vastly outperform GED recipients in terms of their earnings, employment opportunities, educational attainment, and health. The authors show that the differences in success between GED recipients and high school graduates are driven by character skills. Achievement tests like the GED do not adequately capture character skills like conscientiousness, perseverance, sociability, and curiosity. These skills are important in predicting a variety of life outcomes. They can be measured, and they can be taught.
Using the GED as a case study, the authors explore what achievement tests miss and show the dangers of an educational system based on them. They call for a return to an emphasis on character in our schools, our systems of accountability, and our national dialogue.
Eric Grodsky, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Andrew Halpern-Manners, Indiana University Bloomington
Paul A. LaFontaine, Federal Communications Commission
Janice H. Laurence, Temple University
Lois M. Quinn, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Pedro L. Rodríguez, Institute of Advanced Studies in Administration
John Robert Warren, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
In The Ocean in the School Rick Bonus tells the stories of Pacific Islander students as they and their allies struggled to transform a university they believed did not value their presence. Drawing on dozens of interviews with students he taught, advised, and mentored between 2004 and 2018 at the University of Washington, Bonus outlines how, despite the university's promotion of diversity and student success programs, these students often did not find their education to be meaningful, leading some to leave the university. As these students note, they weren't failing school; the school was failing them. Bonus shows how students employed the ocean as a metaphor as a way to foster community and to transform the university into a space that valued meaningfulness, respect, and critical thinking. In sharing these students' insights and experiences, Bonus opens up questions about measuring student success, the centrality of antiracism and social justice to structurally reshaping universities, and the purpose of higher education.
Helicopter parents—the kind that continue to hover even in college—are one of the most ridiculed figures of twenty-first-century parenting, criticized for creating entitled young adults who boomerang back home. But do involved parents really damage their children and burden universities? In this book, sociologist Laura T. Hamilton illuminates the lives of young women and their families to ask just what role parents play during the crucial college years.
Hamilton vividly captures the parenting approaches of mothers and fathers from all walks of life—from a CFO for a Fortune 500 company to a waitress at a roadside diner. As she shows, parents are guided by different visions of the ideal college experience, built around classed notions of women’s work/family plans and the ideal age to “grow up.” Some are intensively involved and hold adulthood at bay to cultivate specific traits: professional helicopters, for instance, help develop the skills and credentials that will advance their daughters’ careers, while pink helicopters emphasize appearance, charm, and social ties in the hopes that women will secure a wealthy mate. In sharp contrast, bystander parents—whose influence is often limited by economic concerns—are relegated to the sidelines of their daughter’s lives. Finally, paramedic parents—who can come from a wide range of class backgrounds—sit in the middle, intervening in emergencies but otherwise valuing self-sufficiency above all.
Analyzing the effects of each of these approaches with clarity and depth, Hamilton ultimately argues that successfully navigating many colleges and universities without involved parents is nearly impossible, and that schools themselves are increasingly dependent on active parents for a wide array of tasks, with intended and unintended consequences. Altogether, Parenting to a Degree offers an incisive look into the new—and sometimes problematic—relationship between students, parents, and universities.
Even high-performing students sometimes need assistance to transform their high school achievement into a higher education outcome that matches their potential, especially when those students come from vulnerable backgrounds. Without intervention, many of these students, lost in the transition between secondary school and higher education, would not attend selective colleges that provide greater opportunities. Potential on the Periphery profiles the Simmons Memorial Foundation (SMF), a grassroots non-profit organization co-founded by author Omari Scott Simmons, that promotes college access for students in North Carolina and Delaware. Simmons discusses how the organization has helped students secure admission and succeed in college, using this example to contextualize the broader realm of existing education practice, academic theory, and public policy. Using data gleaned from interviews with past student participants in the programs run by the SMF, Simmons illuminates the underlying factors thwarting student achievement, such as inadequate information about college options, limited opportunities for social capital acquisition, financial pressures, self-doubt, and political weakness. Simmons then identifies policy solutions and pragmatic strategies that college access organizations can adopt to address these factors.
Practice for Life
Lee Cuba Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress LB2324.C83 2016 | Dewey Decimal 378.198
Undergraduates do not experience college as having a clear beginning and end. Their engagement with higher education is at best episodic. But as Practice for Life shows, the disruptions provide opportunities for reflection and course-correction as students learn to navigate the future uncertainties of adulthood.
Middle- and upper-middle-class students continue to outpace those from less privileged backgrounds. Most attempts to redress this inequality focus on the issue of access to financial resources, but as Producing Success makes clear, the problem goes beyond mere economics. In this eye-opening study, Peter Demerath examines a typical suburban American high school to explain how some students get ahead.
Demerath undertook four years of research at a Midwestern high school to examine the mercilessly competitive culture that drives students to advance. Producing Success reveals the many ways the community’s ideology of achievement plays out: students hone their work ethics and employ various strategies to succeed, from negotiating with teachers to cheating; parents relentlessly push their children while manipulating school policies to help them get ahead; and administrators aid high performers in myriad ways, even naming over forty students “valedictorians.” Yet, as Demerath shows, this unswerving commitment to individual advancement takes its toll, leading to student stress and fatigue, incivility and vandalism, and the alienation of the less successful. Insightful and candid, Producing Success is an often troubling account of the educationally and morally questionable results of the American culture of success.
Nearly the whole of America’s partisan politics centers on a single question: Can markets solve our social problems? And for years this question has played out ferociously in the debates about how we should educate our children. From the growth of vouchers and charter schools to the implementation of No Child Left Behind, policy makers have increasingly turned to market-based models to help improve our schools, believing that private institutions—because they are competitively driven—are better than public ones. With The Public School Advantage, Christopher A. and Sarah Theule Lubienski offer powerful evidence to undercut this belief, showing that public schools in fact outperform private ones.
For decades research showing that students at private schools perform better than students at public ones has been used to promote the benefits of the private sector in education, including vouchers and charter schools—but much of these data are now nearly half a century old. Drawing on two recent, large-scale, and nationally representative databases, the Lubienskis show that any benefit seen in private school performance now is more than explained by demographics. Private schools have higher scores not because they are better institutions but because their students largely come from more privileged backgrounds that offer greater educational support. After correcting for demographics, the Lubienskis go on to show that gains in student achievement at public schools are at least as great and often greater than those at private ones. Even more surprising, they show that the very mechanism that market-based reformers champion—autonomy—may be the crucial factor that prevents private schools from performing better. Alternatively, those practices that these reformers castigate, such as teacher certification and professional reforms of curriculum and instruction, turn out to have a significant effect on school improvement.
Despite our politics, we all agree on the fundamental fact: education deserves our utmost care. The Public School Advantage offers exactly that. By examining schools within the diversity of populations in which they actually operate, it provides not ideologies but facts. And the facts say it clearly: education is better off when provided for the public by the public.
The Wallace Foundation’s National Summer Learning Study, conducted by RAND and launched in 2011, offers the first assessment of district-run voluntary summer programs over the short and long run. This report, the second of five that will result from the study, looks at how summer programs affected student performance on math, reading, and social and emotional assessments in fall 2013.
The circumstances affecting many African American males in schools and society remain complex and problematic. In spite of modest gains in school achievement and graduation rates, conditions that impede the progress of African American males persist: high rates of school violence and suspensions, overrepresentation in special education classes, poor access to higher education, high incidence of crime and incarceration, gender and masculine identity issues, and HIV/AIDS and other health crises.
The essays gathered here focus on these issues as they exist for males in grades K-12 and postsecondary education in Michigan. However, the authors intend their analyses and policy recommendations to apply to African American males nationally.
Although it recognizes the current difficulties of this population overall, this is an optimistic volume, with a goal of creating policies and norms that help African American males achieve their educational and social potential. In this era of widespread change for all members of American society-regardless of race-this book is a must-read for educators and policymakers alike.
What Every Science Student Should Know
Justin L. Bauer, Yoo Jung Kim, Andrew H. Zureick, and Daniel K. Lee University of Chicago Press, 2016 Library of Congress Q181.A2B38 2016 | Dewey Decimal 507.1173
“I am often amazed at how much more capability and enthusiasm for science there is among elementary school youngsters than among college students. . . . We must understand and circumvent this dangerous discouragement. No one can predict where the future leaders of science will come from.”—Carl Sagan
In 2012, the White House put out a call to increase the number of STEM graduates by one million. Since then, hundreds of thousands of science students have started down the path toward a STEM career. Yet, of these budding scientists, more than half of all college students planning to study science or medicine leave the field during their academic careers.
What Every Science Student Should Know is the perfect personal mentor for any aspiring scientist. Like an experienced lab partner or frank advisor, the book points out the pitfalls while providing encouragement. Chapters cover the entire college experience, including choosing a major, mastering study skills, doing scientific research, finding a job, and, most important, how to foster and keep a love of science.
This guide is a distillation of the authors’ own experiences as recent science graduates, bolstered by years of research and interviews with successful scientists and other science students. The authorial team includes former editors-in-chief of the prestigious Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science. All have weathered the ups and downs of undergrad life—and all are still pursuing STEM careers. Forthright and empowering, What Every Science Student Should Know is brimming with insider advice on how to excel as both a student and a scientist.
The author of the best-selling What the Best College Teachers Do is back with humane, doable, and inspiring help for students who want to get the most out of their education. The first thing they should do? Think beyond the transcript. Use these four years to cultivate habits of thought that enable learning, growth, and adaptation throughout life.
Why Afterschool Matters
Nelson, Ingrid A. Rutgers University Press, 2017 Library of Congress LC205.N45 2017 | Dewey Decimal 371.82968073
Increasingly, educational researchers and policy-makers are finding that extracurricular programs make a major difference in the lives of disadvantaged youth, helping to reduce the infamous academic attainment gap between white students and their black and Latino peers. Yet studies of these programs typically focus on how they improve the average academic performance of their participants, paying little attention to individual variation.
Why Afterschool Matters takes a different approach, closely following ten Mexican American students who attended the same extracurricular program in California, then chronicling its long-term effects on their lives, from eighth grade to early adulthood. Discovering that participation in the program was life-changing for some students, yet had only a minimal impact on others, sociologist Ingrid A. Nelson investigates the factors behind these very different outcomes. Her research reveals that while afterschool initiatives are important, they are only one component in a complex network of school, family, community, and peer interactions that influence the educational achievement of disadvantaged students.
Through its detailed case studies of individual students, this book brings to life the challenges marginalized youth en route to college face when navigating the intersections of various home, school, and community spheres. Why Afterschool Matters may focus on a single program, but its findings have major implications for education policy nationwide.
Teachers of first-year composition courses do essential work. Teaching argumentation and conventions of university-level writing; demystifying citation and punctuation; promoting reading comprehension and analysis. Yet such skills, as important as they are, do not reflect the full scope of our discipline. Some of the best learning in composition coursework relates to students' growth as successful individuals able to live and write in a complex world. Composition instructors demand civil discourse and respect for diversity. They coach students in time management and the creative process. They build up confidence, break down learning obstacles, and promote self-examination. The essays found in Writing Pathways for Student Success, written by and for instructors of college writing, examine life lessons that both students and instructors learn from first-year composition courses.
Contributors: Lori Brown, Kathryn Crowther, Casie Fedukovich, Rachel Anya Fomalhaut, Lynée Lewis Gaillet, Christopher Garland, Ruth A. Goldfine, Pamela Henney, Rachel McCoppin, Deborah Mixson-Brookshire, Karen Bishop Morris, Sarah O’Connor, Abigail G. Scheg, Lisa Whalen