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Daily Dish: The Effects of Segregated Schools on African American Students

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September 28, 2015 04:19 pm


The release of a new study conducted for the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) by the American Institutes for Research revealed that African American students, particularly males, are most affected by racial segregation in the U.S. public school system. The study analyzed the test scores of 100,000 eighth grade students on the math portion of the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In a Washington Post article, Black males struggle in segregated schools, reporter Lyndsey Layton explores how the study’s findings show that African American students who attend schools with a majority of African American students, score lower on achievement tests than those who go to school with fewer African American students.

Layton notes that the overall black-white achievement gap, based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2013 math test for eighth grade students, was 31 points and has not changed from 2007 to 2013. In the new study, the achievement gap between white and African American students in a “high density” African American school (defined as a school with at least 60 percent of the students are African American) was 25 points, but at a lower density school (20 percent or less) it was only 17 points.

According to The Hechinger Report, the study was conducted because of increasing concern about resegregation in American public schools, and is an attempt to understand how segregation affects the achievement of students of color. Jill Barshay reports that the study shows that integration alone or steering funds to African American schools won’t be enough to close this achievement gap. She calls attention to a portion of the report in which researchers used statistical techniques to determine how much of the gap could be attributed to factors inside the schools versus between schools, with results showing that more than half can be attributed to factors inside the school. In fact, only 15 percent of the achievement gap could be attributed to inequities in funding and resources between the schools.

Barshay also notes that one of the big achievement gap debates is centered on whether white students are being favored over their African American classmates, or whether administrators are directing better teachers and resources to schools with predominantly white students. A Washington Post article, How one principal is trying to get more black men into the classroom, features one group’s mission to put more African American men in the classroom. Headed by Philadelphia principal Sharif El-Mekki, The Fellowship is an organization that aims to become a hub for the recruitment and retention of African American educators, bringing them together and providing professional support. With African American men making up only two percent of the nation’s teachers, El-Mekki says that African American children aren’t seeing teachers who look like them, and aren’t necessarily told that they should consider a teaching career. “I don’t think that seed is being planted,” said El-Mekki. “We have to talk about it with black youth.”



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