According to research, the achievement gap is the performance between a few students whose parents earn low-income compared to that of their counterparts on standardized tests. The minority and low-income children do not perform well as their fellows on the tests (Murphy, 2009). Other studies define racial achievement gap as the differences between the performance of groups of students particularly groups defined by race, gender and social class status. The observation of the achievement gap could be through various different measures such as standardized test scores, drop out rates, and grade point average, as well as, admission in and completion from college rates. A good number of schools have tried so hard to reduce or eliminate the minority achievement gap. In most cases, schools put children falling behind in remedial classes to assist them catch up. Although, some schools are getting that grouping students by ability or tracking leads to even more problems other than solving them. Therefore, despite the fact, there is an increasing number in cultural diversity, in most schools, the policies, practices, and procedures of the dominant culture remain the accepted method to learning. This thus provides learning advantage to students of the dominant culture over learners of the other races and ethnicities.
According to Murphy (2009), culturally competent instructors learn means by which they could effectively communicate with their learners from different races, cultures, and social class. This is always done in respect of the different cultures. These instructors are also aware of their attitudes toward members of different races and cultures with whom they may be working. Achievement and suspension gaps affect negatively educational results for poor children and children of colour on a consistent basis when analyzed in terms of race and ethnicity.
According to studies, the achievement and suspension, this is detected, through standardized tests in elementary schools starts as early as in kindergarten. Some researches had the views that during the first years of children in school, about half the test score gap between black and white students is already evident. Several different tests at kindergarten entry have demonstrated evidence of such a gap. Therefore, this makes it difficult for such students to catch up with others later on since the early gap in performance is extremely critical. For instance, learners who perform poorly in tests of cognitive skills before joining kindergarten are most likely to perform extremely poorly in the entire of their school life.
The use of suspension as the main discipline strategy always has a disproportionate impact on students of colour since most schools depend highly on suspension from classroom. Therefore, the application of suspension as a disciplinary practice may lead to the well documented racial gaps in academic achievement. This therefore, implies that there is a significant need for scholarly attention to the racial gap if efforts dealing with the achievement gap are to have a higher likelihood of success.
However, some researchers argue that the achievement and suspension gaps are not as a result of race, but are issues of class. For instance, such arguments reveal that the gap in test scores does not show any signs of race, but rather it is because of the socioeconomic status of the family where the child is coming. These researchers demonstrate that the poorly performing students do so because they lack adequate financial resources. The financial resources could enable them compete favourably with their counterparts. Therefore, this perspective implies that the actual gap is brought about by the children who come from wealthy families and neighbourhoods versus those who come from poor families and neighbourhoods.
Nevertheless, despite all these arguments made by various researchers, it is significant that the educational diversity focuses on whether the school community is serious and believes that all students can learn despite their races, ethnicity, social background and cultures among others. This is because effective school instructors promote cultures that are of value. There is the formation of healthy the processes of encouraging, acknowledging, understanding, and cultivating diverse values in schools.
Causes of the racial achievement and suspension gaps
Studies show that frequent suspensions of students from classrooms are the greatest cause of poor academic performance. In addition, suspensions may cause a student to drop out of school or to cause a delay in the graduation process. For instance, school discipline practices resulting in suspension from school may cause severe damage to the learning process of a student and in other ways, as well. This may happen because most of the time the suspended students become less attached to school, less invested in school rules and school assignments, as well as, less motivated to achieve academic success (Chubb, 2002). Such students not bonded to school are more likely to change into law breakers. For instance, they may start participating in law breaking practices hence becoming less motivate to achieve academic success. Therefore, from the previous research, it is revealed that school suspensions increase the risk of antisocial behaviour that the nations face. In overall, disproportionate school discipline encountered by some racial and ethnic group has significant implications for academic outcomes.
Some demographic characteristics that are common among some racial and ethnic groups have been used as the main explanation for the racial achievement and suspension gaps. For instance, low income learners with histories of low achievement who live in high crime or high poverty neighbourhoods may be at a higher risk for involving themselves in acts leading to office disciplinary referrals and school suspensions. Therefore, sociocultural factors are the foremost causes of the achievements and suspension gaps. For instance, the cultural attitudes and racism plays the key role in the achievement gap. This is seen when the minority students holds the attitude that the majority cultures sees them as people who are less capable. Thus, expects little from them.
It is difficult for the minority students with such attitudes to try to perform better in school because they believe that they will not succeed. Some studies illustrate that minority learners try to keep their low levels of achievement intentionally. This is in order not to behave like the white students and get the approval of their friends. To make matters worse, the instructors have low expectations of these students hence making them to have low expectations for them.
Other researchers demonstrate that the achievement and suspension gaps exist as a result of homes and communities. For instance, students may not be able to perform well if they are not coming from stable home environment with the support needed in order to succeed in school, even though there are enough alignment standards, as well as, setting flexible curriculums within the school. Therefore, the researchers try to make a follow up on what happens in the homes of the students in order to know the cause of the achievement gap. Thus, through such researches, it has been revealed that, in most cases, parents or guardian do not get involved in the education of the student, there is the lack of discipline for children in homes, and communities, and attitudes of indifferences and low expectations for the child`s educational achievement. This implies that the tutors and the school only have the ability of instructing, but they cannot reinforce the behaviours at home or ensure that a child`s` assignment is accomplished. Moreover, they cannot ensure that the child has someone to assist with his or her studies. Thus, the problem could only be solved starting form home by correcting those issues first.
According to suggestions from other studies, academic achievement is exceedingly closely tied to race and socioeconomic status. For instance, being brought up in a low income family may imply having few educational materials together with poor nutrition and limited access to health care services, all of which could lead to poor and low performances academically (Orfield, 2008).
Achievement gap is also caused by biological differences like brain structure and development. For instance, this is seen in the way in which one gender may perform better than the other especially in certain subjects. Statistics show that different parts of the brain grow differently in female compared to males. Therefore, the rate of brain maturation between boys and girls influences how gender process data and could have effects in their performance at academic, work. This thus shows that the average variations in genetic and level of intelligence are the main causes of racial differences in academic achievement.
Another cause for achievement and suspension gap includes the cultural and environmental factors. This implies that the culture and environment where children are brought in may play a significant part in the achievement and suspension gap. For instance, the black parents in most cases do not motivate their children or do not promote early education to their children. This is because they do no see the personal advantages of gaining exceptional academic skills. Thus, the African Americans tend to start school with little vocabularies than their white counterparts as the result of the cultural differences.
Nevertheless, poverty is known to play a crucial part, and the differences assumed to occur from racial factors may be as a result of socioeconomic circumstances. This means that the majority of poor students despite their race, are from homes that are unstable, lack enough care, inadequate nutrition, and health care thus causing depression environmentally hence affecting the young children’s growth and development. Thus as a result, this causes more effect on the achievement and suspension gaps.
For example, because of lack of enough resources, a child may choose to participate in acts such as theft in order to meet some of his or her wants. Such acts may in the end cause suspension from schools hence; cause achievement and suspension gap between African Americans. Because of environmental and cultural differences between the whites and the black students, the black children in most cases join the school with low level of knowledge that can influence their skills in languages, their book experiences and develops difference in perceptions and expectations in the school context.
Moreover, racial achievement and suspension gaps are due to low achievement. For instance, research shows that there is a persistent pattern that Asian and white students score greater grades on achievement tests compared with white students, Latinos and American Indian students. In such circumstances, most students may become frustrated disaffected as well as develop low self confidence due to repeated academic difficulties and underperforming which may lead to a higher rate of school disruption.
Remedies for achievement and suspension gaps
In order for the school, community, and students, to achieve or overcome the achievement and suspension gap, remedies such as teacher focused reforms should be advocated for in school institutions. Studies show that, teachers are the most significant in-school factor influencing the academic achievement of students. This reform should be enhanced from both up – down in line of greater standards for teacher education and preparation. Furthermore, it should consist of a bottom up through programs focusing on addressing educational inequity by recruiting and training teachers particularly to work in high needs learning institutions.
Another remedy recommended includes the idea of investing in early childhood education. Through this remedy, the school institution may be able to reduce or at least eliminate the achievement gap starting at its young stages. Economists explain that the process of investing in early childhood education both more effective and cost effective than interventions in later stages of the life of a child. For instance, there are various education programs for pre-kindergarten children that are set aside to help the low income families as away of creating equality for these children before they join schools. Furthermore, adding to the increased access, there should be an increased national focus on raising quality standards for teachers and ensure that the pre-kindergarten programs are funded to meet to the needs of the low income families and their children.
In addition, the early childhood education care providers should undergo serious training and professional development in order to make them achieve the necessary skills and knowledge needed to meeting the needs of these young children without struggle. There has been some recent evidence of the advantages of enhancing childhood education in early stages as a remedy of overcoming the achievement and suspension gaps. Therefore, this is a clear implication that pre-kindergarten programs create positive and long-lasting effects on the student’s academic achievement of the low income and minority learners.
In addition, some studies argue that by reducing the gap between the white-black tests score gap would help a terrific deal in moving the United States toward racial equality than any political plausible alternatives. Therefore, through the reduction of the gap it will also lead to significant, positive social and economic effects which also help in reducing the rates of school expulsions hence overcoming the achievement gap.
Furthermore, in order to a dress the issue of achievement and suspension gap, some interventions in both the district and state level should be encouraged. For instance, such interventions should include reduction in the size of the class, invest in young schools, and change in curriculum schedule, reinforcement of early childhood education through school standards and needs and advanced teacher education programs. The use of after school tutoring sessions and remedial programs help in achieving or meeting the achievement and suspension gaps within school institutions in order to create equality among all races whether white, black, or an Asian (Cheryl, 2007). With such remedies in place, the learning process of the minority students will be accelerated to extreme levels higher than a year’s development in one year’s time to enable them catch up to their counterparts. Therefore, all schools have to start de-tracking their learners in order to offer the same quality education for all students despite the race.
Another remedy recommended includes providing the necessary incentive for the students particularly the students from the low income earning parents. The main goal of this is to enhance the achievement of students academically hence close the achievement and suspension gaps between the high and low performing schools. The parents should devote their time to checking and helping their children with education assignments to ensure that what they are doing is right. In addition, frequent check ups gives the child the motivation and encouragement she or he needs in accomplishing the course works and preparing for the final exams. Through this, there are high possibilities of closing the achievement and suspension gaps in students’ hence high academic performances. Research shows that children able to perform better in academic work if their parents offers or takes time in assisting them with coursework and assignments.
Promoting remedies such as increasing awareness to teachers and administrators of the existing bias at the time of providing referrals for discipline to the students should be emphasized. The black students experience high rates of suspension compared to their white counterparts. It is advisable that suspensions and classrooms exclusions and schools should always be the last alternative measure of disciplinary rather than being put first (Myra, 2007). Teachers should always try to get the knowledge of what is leading cause of the problem leading to the unwanted behaviour of the student. This will help in reconnecting the learners with the educational mission of school at the time of disciplinary practices. Therefore, by applying these remedies to responsible offices institutions will ensure that the right procedures are adhered to hence closing the racial achievement gap and suspension gaps among student. This will obviously lead to high and better performance of students in schools.
The achievement gap is the performance between poor students compared to that of their peers on standardized tests. The minority and low-income children do not perform well as their fellows on the tests. Other studies define racial achievement gap as the disparity seen on rate of learning approaches between the achievement of students particularly groups defined by race, religion, and class status. The observation of the achievement gap could be through various different measures such as standardized test scores, drop out rates, and grade point average, as well as, admission in and completion from college rates. There are a considerable number of factors that cause achievement and suspension gaps. These include the cultural and environmental factors. This implies that the culture and environment where children are brought in may play a vital part in the achievement and suspension gap. Other factors include socioeconomic factors among others just as discussed above. However, the achievement and suspension gaps could be overcome through several remedies such as reducing the test score gaps between the black and white students, setting up educational programs and investing in early childhood education programs in order to close the gap between the students in terms of race.