May 20, 2009
Add one more study to the research that demonstrates how important it is for underserved students (students of color, especially) to take rigorous math courses in middle school.
A recent study from the University of Illinois examines the feedback loops between math course placement, student engagement and academic achievement, and found that these three factors reinforce each other, for good and for bad. The report’s author found that students who take more advanced math classes in middle school develop positive behaviors (e.g., increased engagement, increased student effort), while students who take lower level math classes in middle school fall farther behind in terms of achievement, engagement and effort. This appears to be especially true in high minority schools. According to the report,
…the empirical results suggest that increased access to more advanced and rigorous coursework could have a significant impact on African American math achievement directly and indirectly via improved student engagement and behavior, particularly in predominantly Black urban schools.
The message is loud and clear – getting students, especially students of color, ready for high-level math in middle school (e.g., Algebra I or Geometry in 8th grade) is critical for their future academic success.
May 12, 2009
As Breakthrough programs gear up for summer, here’s some research to show why the summer learning opportunities Breakthrough provides are so critical:
At the recent National Partnership for Educational Access conference, Ron Fairchild from the National Center for Summer Learning presented data showing that the achievement gap between low-income students and middle-income students is largely attributable to setbacks in achievement that happen each summer. According to research from the National Center for Summer Learning, “two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.”
In addition, a recently released report from ETS, Parsing the Achievement Gap, cites research from the Northwest Evaluation Association to show that summer learning loss is more of a risk for high achieving students, and that high-achieving low-income, Black and Hispanic students experience greater summer learning loss than their higher-income and White peers. According to the Northwest Evaluation Association Report,
Students from poorer schools and minority students also grow less or lose more ground over the summer than peers… The effect seems particularly pronounced among high performers, which is unfortunate, since it means that high performing students attending less wealthy schools and high performing minority students do not gain the same reward from their academic efforts as others. Since most academic summer programs are aimed at low performers, there may be little done by schools to address this particular issue.
Many schools and summer programs may not be addressing this issue, but Breakthrough does. Breakthrough programs work with students who research shows are most at risk for summer learning loss (low-income, minority, high academic potential) and provides them with an intensive, academically rigorous six week summer program.
Click here to download PowerPoint slides of these data.
Click here for talking points on summer learning loss.