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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads 3 Preparation FROM A NATION AT RISK TO AMERICA AT THE CROSSROADS: K-12 More than 25 years ago, the National Commission on Excellence in Education issued the landmark report, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. This report argued that the nation’s education system was “being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and as a people.” Academic achievement test scores were falling; fewer students were adequately prepared for entry into college or the job market; and schools were failing to compete with those in other developed countries. Later that year, the National Science Board Commission on Precollege Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology published the report Educating Americans for the 21st Century, responding to the impact of emerging new technologies on K-12 education. These reports occurred during a time when the demand for highly skilled workers in emerging fields was accelerating rapidly. They called for massive reform in the educational process “at the expense of a strong public commitment to the equitable treatment of our diverse population.” Subsequently, former President George H. W. Bush convened a historic Education Summit at Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1989 with 50 governors at which they agreed to set national education goals. The Bush administration and the governors announced the six national
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads All, regardless of race or class or economic status, are entitled to a fair chance and to the tools for developing their individual powers of mind and spirit to the utmost. This promise means that all children by virtue of their own efforts, competently guided, can hope to attain the mature and informed judgment needed to secure gainful employment, and to manage their own lives, thereby serving not only their own interests but also the progress of society itself. –A Nation At Risk, April 1983 education goals1 (Box 3-1) and created the National Education Goals Panel2 to report national and state progress toward the goals, identify promising practices for improving education, and help to build a nationwide bipartisan consensus to achieve the goals. The Goals Panel released annual reports and other resource documents as guidance for measuring progress toward the goals, establishing national education standards, assessing students’ completion of school, and recognizing the link between teacher quality and student achievement. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 that pushed for increased accountability for states, school districts, and schools; more choices for parents and students, especially those attending low-performing schools; greater flexibility for states and school districts in the use of federal education funds in exchange for improved performance; and a stronger emphasis on reading. Tough sanctions would be imposed on schools failing to show improved performance, and those that narrowed the achievement gaps would be eligible to receive State Academic Achievement Awards. The principles of the NCLB Act also flowed to other programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, such as the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants program that applies scientifically based research to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality teachers. More recently, under President Barack Obama, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform. In spite of the numerous reports and policy and reform initiatives targeting curriculum and educational standards, assessments, and teacher preparation, today the nation is faced with the same issues—failing schools and 1 The six goals were later expanded to eight by Congress. 2 The Goals Panel was reconstituted to include representatives from Congress as voting members and equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. President Clinton signed the “Goals 2000: Educate America Act” adding state legislators to the panel membership.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads BOX 3-1 Education Goals 2000 The 1989 Education Summit led to the adoption of six National Education Goals, later expanded to eight by Congress. Essentially, the goals state that by Year 2000: All children will start school ready to learn. The high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90%. All students will become competent in challenging subject matter. Teachers will have the knowledge and skills that they need. U.S. students will be first in the world in mathematics and science achievement. Every adult American will be literate. Schools will be safe, disciplined, and free of guns, drugs, and alcohol. Schools will promote parental involvement and participation. SOURCE: Goals 2000—The Clinton Administration Education Program, http://www.nd.edu/~rbarger/www7/goals200.html. inequitable education at a time when there is even more need for a skilled workforce. Recent reports show that previous efforts have produced mixed results for the general populace and have had limited effectiveness in bridging the achievement gap for underrepresented minorities, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. In fact, the efforts have failed to address the special needs of underrepresented minorities in a fashion systematic enough to sustain the small gains made. The problem has been exacerbated by a surge in the nation’s Hispanic population due to substantial immigration since the 1990s that has filled many schools with large numbers of children who are not native speakers of English. Thus, as underrepresented minorities continue to be unprepared to matriculate successfully through the education trajectory, the United States continues to fall further behind other industrialized nations in academic achievement and degree production in science and engineering. NATIONAL MARKERS FOR UNDERREPRESENTED MINORITIES A range of indicators signal the need for us to reconsider the efficacy of national policies and investments in K-12 education. These are presented in the context of the demographic shifts in the American population and the potential impact of continuing the legacy of inequality in the educational system. There are systemic failures in the implementation of federal, state,
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads and local policies designed to provide equity and excellence in K-12 education, and these failures weaken our foundation for future prosperity. K-12 Enrollment Trends According to Projections of Education Statistics to 2018, total public and private elementary and secondary school enrollment reached a record 55 million in fall 2006 and is projected to set new records each year from 2009 through 2018, with increasing proportions of underrepresented minorities. The South is expected to maintain the largest overall enrollment, with 40 percent of students residing in this region. Private school enrollment is expected to decrease during this period, given its 9 percent enrollment growth between 1985 and 2008 compared to the 26 percent growth in public schools.3 The proportion of underrepresented minorities enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools has increased over time. Figure 3-1 shows that between 1972 and 2007, the percentage of public school students who were white decreased from 78 to 56 percent, while the percentage of students from other racial/ethnic groups increased from 22 to 44 percent, largely reflecting the growth in the percentage of Hispanic students Thus, the K-12 pipeline is expected to have an inevitable majority of underrepresented minorities and must be a major focal point of intervention to cultivate the diverse talent pool needed to sustain the nation’s future in STEM. The K-12 pipeline can be divided into four key transition points for the purposes of policy intervention for underrepresented minorities: prekindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and high school. There are indicators for each of these transition points that signal the need for intervention and that impact the continuing progression of underrepresented minority students. International Comparisons of K-12 Mathematics and Science Performance International comparisons provide a window through which to view our nation’s competitiveness in the global economy. These comparisons spur a review of policy issues from access to education to equity of resources devoted to educational achievement, and they point to the need for more effective and coherent strategies to improve academic performance. For example, the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) reports that math and science scores for U.S. 4th and 8th grade students were lower than those of students in peer countries, accord- 3 W. J. Hussar and Bailey, T. M. 2009. Projections of Education Statistics to 2018 (NCES 2009-062). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 3-1 Percentage distribution of public school students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade by race/ethnicity: Selected years, October 1972-October 2007. NOTE: “Other” includes all students who identified themselves as being Asian, Hawaiian, American Indian, or two or more races. Estimates include all public school students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Over time, the Current Population Survey (CPS) has had different response options for race/ethnicity. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, selected years, 1972-2007. ing to international benchmarks. The United States also has had the least sustained improvement in math and science from 1995 to 2007. It has, in fact, shown a 3-point decrease in the average science score for 4th grade science. The largest increase was in 8th grade mathematics, with an average score difference of 16 points. The 2007 TIMSS report showed that African American and Hispanic students were narrowing the gap in 4th and 8th grade mathematics, but, as Figure 3-2 for Grade 8 shows, a large gap remained. Meanwhile, there is no consistent trend in science for either grade. In addition, as shown in Figure 3-3, at least at the 8th grade level, there is a large gap among schools by poverty level. As shown in Figure 3-4, the Education Trust conducted an analysis of TIMSS data that shows that average mathematics and science scores for underrepresented minorities are below the national average and thus even less competitive globally. There is a larger gap between Hispanic/Latino and African Americans in mathematics and science for grades 4 and 8, except
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 3-2 Grade 8 TIMSS average math scores by race/ethnicity. SOURCE: The Education Trust. 2008. Highlights from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007, Natonal Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. FIGURE 3-3 Grade 8 TIMSS average math scores by school poverty level. SOURCE: The Education Trust. 2008. Highlights from Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. in 4th grade science, where the average scores are about the same. African Americans scored lower than any group across the board. The United States also compares its education system to that of the other Group of Eight (G-8) countries—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom—that are among the world’s
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 3-4 TIMSS Grade 4 math racial/ethnic subgroup comparison to all participating countries. SOURCE: The Education Trust. 2008. Highlights from Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. most economically developed and among the nation’s major competitors. Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries: 20094 shows that the United States has the largest percentage of 5- to 19-year-olds of all of the G-8 countries and experienced the highest growth in that subpopulation between 1996 and 2006. However, other G-8 countries outpace the United States in reading literacy, mathematics, and science. The United States also displays the widest disparity among racial/ethnic subgroups. The average years of teaching experience among 4th grade teachers in England and the United States was lower than in all other participating G-8 countries. The average teaching experience was three years lower in 2006 compared to 2001. While it spent a higher percentage of its GDP on education in 2005, it awarded among the lowest percentages of first university degrees in STEM of all the G-8 countries. It was the only G-8 country to award more first university degrees in the arts and humanities than in science, mathematics, and engineering. 4 D. C. Miller, A. Sen, L. B. Malley, and S. D. Burns. 2009. Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries: 2009 (NCES 2009-039). (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads Andreas Schleicher, in commenting on international benchmarking, indicated in a July 2009 briefing at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars that the U.S. education system needs a paradigm shift, one that embraces diversity, delivers equity, adopts universal high standards, and uses data and best practices. He commented that the distinction between public and private schools does not matter too much and that the United States should move from prescribed forms of teaching and assessment toward more personalized learning. All agree that the trends shown in the reports will only worsen if the nation does not aggressively and systematically remedy the problems that perpetuate the achievement gaps and underrepresentation of minorities in STEM. Understanding Mathematics and Science Achievement Gaps The achievement gap between white and minority students in K-12 mathematics and science is well documented in numerous research and statistical reports (e.g., Condition of Education, The Nation’s Report Card, Science and Engineering Indicators). These confirm that family and community differences and school context have a significant impact on student achievement throughout the K-12 spectrum. For example, gaps in mathematics and science start in kindergarten and widen over time among underrepresented minorities generally, and especially among children with such risk factors as poverty, having a mother whose highest level of education was less than a high school diploma, or a home language other than English. The Condition of Education 2009 reports that a higher percentage of white children had family members who read to them daily than did children of other racial/ethnic groups. Also, a higher percentage of Asian children were read to than Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native children at all ages, and than black children at ages two and four. Overall, a smaller percentage of children in poverty were read stories to, told stories to, or sung to daily by a family member, compared with children not in poverty.5 The achievement gap in mathematics and science is documented in numerous national assessments of student progress that have reported some fluctuations but the same trend for decades. As an illustration, Table 3-1 shows the average mathematics scores of students from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey (ECLS) by race/ethnicity from kindergarten to grade five for 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2007 as reported by the National Science Foundation (2008).6 From kindergarten to 8th grade, white students posted a gain of 116 points; Hispanics, a gain of 113 points; and blacks, 5 M. Planty, W. Hussar, et al. 2009. The Condition of Education 2009 (NCES 2009-081). National Center for Education Statistics Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC. 6 National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Indicators 2008.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads TABLE 3-1 Average Mathematics Scores of Students from Beginning Kindergarten to Grade 8, by Race/Ethnicity: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2007 Race/Ethnicity Fall 1998 Kindergarten Spring 2000 Grade 1 Spring 2002 Grade 3 Spring 2004 Grade 5 Spring 2008 Grade 8 All students 26 62 99 123 139 White 29 66 106 129 145 Black 22 52 84 105 123 Hispanic 22 56 92 118 135 Asian 30 65 105 133 148 Othera 25 59 95 120 137 aIncludes non-Hispanic Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and children of more than one race. SOURCES: National Center for Education Statistics, Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998 and spring 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2007; and National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, special tabulations, Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. a gain of 101 points. By 5th grade, the gap between white and black students in average mathematics scores was 24 points, and the average score of black 5th grade students was equivalent to the average 3rd grade score of white students. ECLS data suggest that some gaps widened as students progressed through elementary school and that other gaps, such as those between boys and girls, emerged that were not present when students started school. Boys and girls started kindergarten at the same overall mathematics performance level, but by the end of 5th grade, boys had made larger mathematics gains than girls, resulting in a gender gap of four points. Some research suggests that widening achievement gaps as students progress through school are, at least in part, a result of differential learning growth and loss during the summer (Cooper, 1996; Alexander et al., 2007 ). Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains. These findings have been attributed to greater ability among higher-income parents to provide their children with mathematically stimulating materials and activities during the summer. According to the Education Longitudinal Study (ELS), similar gaps persist through high school. For example, the proportion of 12th grade students overall demonstrating proficiency in advanced mathematics was lower and decreased as more advanced skills were tested. While each demographic subgroup examined improved in mathematics skills from 10th to 12th
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads TABLE 3-2 Average Science Score of Students in Grades 4, 8, and 12, by Race/Ethnicity: 1996, 2000, and 2005 Race/Ethnicity 1996 2000 2005 All Grade 4 147 147 151 White 158 159 162 Black 120 122 129 Hispanic 124 122 133 Asian/Pacific Islander 144 NAa 158 American Indian/Alaska Native 129 135 138 All Grade 8 149 149 149 White 159 161 160 Black 121 121 124 Hispanic 128 127 129 Asian/Pacific Islander 151 153 156 American Indian/Alaska Native 148 147 128 All Grade 12 150 146 147 White 159 153 156 Black 123 122 120 Hispanic 131 128 128 Asian/Pacific Islander 147 149 153 American Indian/Alaska Native 144 151 139 NOTES: Scores on 0-300 scale for each grade. In 2005, NAEP science assessment completed transition to an accommodations-permitted test. aNA = not available. Special analyses raised concerns about accuracy and precision of national grade 4 Asian/Pacific Islander results in 2000; therefore omitted from National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). SOURCES: NCES, The Nation’s Report Card: Science 2005 (NCES 2006-466) (2006); NAEP, 1996, 2000, and 2005 science assessments; and National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, special tabulations. grade, minority students’ scores were lower than those for white students (Table 3-2). By 12th grade, the average performance of black students was slightly lower than the average 10th grade performance of white and Asian students. A similar pattern is shown also for science assessments from 3rd through 12th grade. Thus, as larger numbers of underrepresented minorities are entering the STEM pipeline, many still are not progressing at a rate comparable to that of whites. The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) is the primary source used to report student performance data for the nation and specific geographic regions of the country and to produce The Nation’s Report Card. The NAEP mathematics and science frameworks are developed under the direction of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets specific
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads achievement levels (basic, proficient, and advanced) for each subject area and grade as standards for student performance. The assessment uses two dimensions of mathematics, content areas and mathematical complexity. The science framework emphasizes assessing science concepts and application of scientific knowledge and skills rather than factual knowledge. NAEP Mathematics The most recent NAEP assessments of educational progress for 4th and 8th graders in mathematics show that all racial/ethnic groups showed higher average mathematics scores in 2009 than in 2007 and 1990.7 Asian/Pacific Islander 4th grade scores were the highest followed by those of whites. Score increases did not consistently result in a significant closing of performance gaps between white and underrepresented minority students, although gains over the years for black students resulted in a smaller gap between black and white students in 2009 than in 1990. Male students continued to score two points higher on average than female students. The average mathematics score for 4th graders in public schools (239) was lower than for students in private schools overall (246) and in Catholic schools specifically (245). Students who were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch continued to score lower on average than students who were not; however, average mathematics scores were higher in 2009 than in 2007 for all three groups. Mathematics scores increased from 2007 to 2009 for black students in Delaware and New Jersey; Hispanic students in Delaware, Florida, Missouri, and New Mexico; American Indian/Alaska Native students in Oklahoma. In no state did scores decline since 2005 for students overall or for any racial/ethnic group. Table 3-3 compares the 2007 average scale scores and achievement level results by race/ethnicity for 4th and 8th grade public school students. Eighth graders reported gains for each of the five content areas. The largest percentage of the 168 questions that made up the 8th grade mathematics assessment (approximately 30 percent) focused on algebra. The percentages of 8th grade public school students at or above basic and proficient and advanced increased steadily from 1990 to 2007. White, black, and Hispanic students showed higher average mathematics scores in 2007 than in all previous assessment years. The score for Asian/Pacific Islander students showed no significant change in comparison to 2005 but was higher than in 1990. No significant change in the score was seen for American Indian/Alaska Native students. 7 The Nation’s Report Card: Mathematics 2009. National Assessment of Educational Progress at Grades 4 and 8 (NCES 2010-451). 2010. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads dent achievement in mathematics and science, particularly content-focused teacher professional development. They found that since experience greatly enhances the productivity of elementary and middle school teachers early in their careers, policies should be designed to promote retention of young teachers. In addition, advanced degrees are not correlated with the productivity of elementary school teachers; thus, current salary schedules, which are based in part on educational attainment, may not be an efficient way to compensate teachers. In addition, more resources should be directed toward content-focused training for teachers in the upper grades, and changes are warranted in professional development at the elementary level and in pedagogical in-service training generally. They found no evidence that education majors are significantly more productive as teachers than nonmajors, so it seems worthwhile to experiment with “alternative certification” programs that facilitate the entry into teaching of people with majors other than education. These researchers also suggest that more experienced teachers appear more effective in teaching elementary math and reading and middle school math. The Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative (SMTI) was formed as an ambitious effort by members of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities to substantially increase the number and diversity of high quality mathematics and science teachers in middle schools and high schools. Through partnerships among universities, school systems, the business community, and state and federal governments, SMTI intends to respond to statewide needs for teachers on a sustained basis. SMTI is developing an analytic framework to capture and share leading evidence-based practices systematically with other institutions to enhance the quality of teachers. The National Math and Science Initiative also recommends keeping content knowledge the priority for elementary and secondary teachers and offers a guide for state policy makers to inventory their own policies and regulations to ensure that each contributes to solving the teacher pipeline problem.31 The Education Trust presents a plan for equity with immediate and longer-term steps to remedy the unfair distribution of teacher quality. The Education Trust presents a case study of how three states—Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin—and their three biggest school systems—Cleveland, Chicago, and Milwaukee—attempted to solve this problem.32 The result of their surveys showed that the current system of distributing teacher quality produces exactly the opposite of what is needed to close achievement gaps. They found consistently that highly qualified teachers were more 31 Tackling the STEM Crisis: Five Steps Your State Can Take to Improve the Quality and Quantity of Its K-12 Math and Science Teachers. National Math and Science Initiative. Available at http://www.nctq.org/p/docs/nctq_nmsi_stem_initiative.pdf. 32 H. Peske and K. Haycock. 2006. Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students Are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality. Washington, DC: The Education Trust.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads likely teaching in schools with less poverty and fewer students of color and in schools with higher achievement. Researchers at the Illinois Education Research Council looked at a combination of measures and documented differences in the combined characteristics of teachers in high- and low-poverty schools and attempted to understand how, if at all, these differences affected student achievement. They found that quality matters a lot. For example, in schools with just average teacher quality, students who completed Algebra II were more prepared for college than their peers in schools with the lowest teacher quality who had completed calculus.33 The federal government could use policy as a lever to address the equity problem. Title I—Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged is “to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.” The assumption seems to be that these funds are added to an equitable base of state and local resources. However, the schools that have had the most low-income children have had the least qualified teachers who were paid less than veteran and fully credentialed teachers.34 Thus, school districts could spend less money in Title I schools than in other schools even with the addition of Title I funds. The law requires “comparability” in the educational opportunities provided in Title I and non-Title I schools but ignores disparities in teacher qualifications across schools and the resulting disparities in teacher salaries. Thus, millions of dollars were directed away from high-poverty schools to subsidize higher teacher salaries in schools with fewer children from low-income families. Principals in high-poverty schools received no additional money to train and support their inexperienced, lower-paid staff. The comparability loophole allowed districts to not confront the discriminatory effects of the current system. With the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), Congress insisted that states and districts had to commit to identifying and addressing shortages of qualified teachers in high-poverty and high-minority schools as a condition of continuing to receive federal funds to help with the education of disadvantaged students. Every state and district that wanted to participate in Title I had to develop a plan “to ensure that poor and minority students are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers.” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has argued for differential pay for teachers of mathematics, science, and other high-need subjects, stating 33 Karen J. DeAngelis, Jennifer B. Presley, and Bradford R. White. 2005. Illinois Education Research Council. Policy Report: IERC 2005-1. 34 Lindsey Luebchow. 2009. Equitable Resources in Low Income Schools: Teacher Equity and the Federal Title I Comparability Requirement. Washington, DC: Education Policy Program, New America Foundation.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation. And if you care about promoting opportunity and reducing inequality, the classroom is the place to start. Great teaching is about so much more than education; it is a daily fight for social justice. —Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, at the University of Virginia, October 9, 2009 that there needs to be a more market-driven approach to teacher pay in which schools can bid for outside talent and recruit it. “It’s not the solution,” he has said of this approach to addressing mathematics and science teacher shortages, “but it’s a piece of the solution.” He maintains further that teacher colleges need to become more rigorous and clinical, much like other graduate programs, in order create that “new army of great teachers.” High-quality alternative pathways for aspiring teachers that should expand in coming years, Duncan contends, include those like the New Teacher Project, the Troops to Teacher Program, and Teach for America. College Readiness Each year high school students take the ACT and/or SAT in order to qualify for admission to college. However, the tests also provide compelling feedback about the academic preparation of students throughout the K-12 continuum. The 2009 SAT and ACT reports document and reaffirm the achievement gap between white and underrepresented minority students. Although there is considerable controversy about the validity of using either test to predict college success and the racial bias implicit in test design, the tests still are used as the standard to guide most college admissions decisions. More than 1.5 million students in the class of 2009 took the SAT. Forty percent were underrepresented minority students, an increase from 38.0 percent in 2008 and 29.2 percent in 1999 and the largest and most diverse group ever to take the test. There was an increase also in the number of students who said they were first-generation college students and in the number who reported that English was not their first language. Not surprisingly, average SAT scores vary widely by race, gender, and income, and some gaps even widened. In 2009, the average scores were 501 in critical reading, 515 in mathematics (same as 2008), and 493 in writing. The reading and writing scores each dropped by one point for all groups.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads TABLE 3-5 Average Scores on the SAT Reasoning Test by Race/Ethnicity, 2009 Race/Ethnicity Number Percent Reading Mean Math Mean Writing Mean American Indian/Alaska Native 8,974 1 486 493 469 Asian/Pacific Islander 158,757 10 516 587 520 African American 187,136 12 429 426 421 Hispanic 206,584 14 453 458 446 White 851,014 56 528 536 517 Other 51,215 3 494 514 493 No Response 66,448 4 472 501 469 Total 1,530,128 100 501 515 493 NOTE: Separate scores for Mexican or Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Other Hispanic, Latino, or Latin American are averaged in the row labeled Hispanic. SOURCE: Total Group Profile Report, College Board, 2009 College-Bound Seniors. The differences in SAT scores were most pronounced between Asian students, who scored an average of 1623 out of 2400, and African American students, who averaged 1276. The national average was 1509. Meanwhile, African American students had the lowest average combined mathematics and critical reading score of 855, while white students had an average combined score of 1064 (Table 3-5). Moreover, students with a reported family income of more than $200,000 increased their average combined score over 2008 by 26 points, to 1702. Students who reported family incomes of less than $20,000 a year averaged 1321, a gain of one point. Females comprised 53.5 percent of the 2009 test-taking group and had a combined mathematics and critical reading score of 997 compared to 1037 for males. African American females and males had the lowest average combined mathematics and critical reading scores of 851 and 861, respectively, while Asian female and male students had the highest average combined scores of 1087 and 1118, respectively. White females and males ranked second, with combined scores of 1046 and 1085. Mean scores in mathematics for underrepresented minorities vary considerably among the states, as shown in the sample in Table 3-6. States acknowledge the performance gaps for underrepresented minorities, and some have implemented interventions to improve mathematics achievement. For example, Georgia introduced a new mathematics curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS), beginning with 6th graders in 2005. The GPS has been phased in one grade per year. Students in the class of 2012 will be the first graduating class to have been fully instructed in GPS mathematics during secondary school.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads TABLE 3-6 Average State Mathematics Scores on the SAT Reasoning Test by Race/Ethnicity, 2009 Race/Ethnicity Nation CA GA MA MI NY TX WI American Indian/Alaska Native 493 501 492 496 598 473 513 562 Asian/Pacific Islander 587 568 572 593 673 571 582 666 African American 426 428 422 430 484 419 436 510 Hispanic 458 458 480 457 546 439 473 548 White 536 549 522 539 604 536 543 612 Other 514 524 487 504 602 487 511 592 No Response 501 513 484 503 591 464 481 584 NOTE: Separate scores for Mexican or Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Other Hispanic, Latino, or Latin American are averaged in the row labeled Hispanic. SOURCE: Total Group Profile Report, College Board, 2009 College-Bound Seniors. A record number of students took the ACT in 2009. Of the 1,480,000 who took the test, only about 23 percent were underrepresented minorities, and 64 percent were white. Overall test scores remained the same between 2005 and 2009, although 25 percent more high school graduates have taken the ACT over this period, and the group has become more heterogeneous. Average composite scores for all groups increased between 2005 and 2009 except for African American graduates, whose average score decreased by 0.1 scale point. The ACT establishes college readiness benchmarks and reported that students from most racial/ethnic groups met the English benchmark, followed in order by the reading, mathematics, and science benchmarks.35 Three benchmarks were met by at least 50 percent of Asian American/Pacific Islander and white students, while one was met by at least 50 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native students. None of the benchmarks were met by at least 50 percent of Hispanic or African American students. As with the SAT, graduates who took a college preparatory core curriculum in high school were more likely to meet the ACT benchmarks in 2009. The largest curriculum-based difference in benchmark attainment rates was in mathematics. Figure 3-5 compares the percentage of students taking core courses, by race/ethnicity, in 1999 and 2009. There is an increase from 74 to 80 percent of students overall completing core courses since 1999 with Native American (66 to 75) and white students (76 to 84) showing the largest gain. Black and Mexican American students are the least represented in 2009, with percentages of 72 and 71, respectively. 35 ACT defines college readiness as students having approximately a 75 percent chance of earning a grade of C or higher in first-year college English composition; college algebra; history, psychology, sociology, political science, or economics; and biology.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 3-5 Percentage of students with core course work during high school by race/ethnicity. SOURCE: The College Board, Graph Set 5: Course Taking Patterns Continued: 1999 and 2009. The strongest SAT and ACT performers had three things in common. They had completed a core curriculum, had taken the most rigorous courses, and had familiarized themselves with the test. The core curriculum consisted of four or more years of English, three or more years of natural science, and three or more years of social science and history. Students in the SAT class of 2009 who took core curricula scored an average of 46 points higher on the critical reading section, 44 points higher on the mathematics section, and 45 points higher on the writing section than those who did not. Similarly, students in the class of 2009 who had taken the most demanding honors or Advanced Placement® courses had higher SAT scores on this year’s test. For example, students who took AP® or honors English courses scored 60 points higher in critical reading and 59 points higher in writing than the average of all students. Similarly, students who took AP or honors math courses had a 79-point advantage compared to the average mathematics score. And students who had previously taken the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test scored 121 points higher on average than those who did not take the test. The overall performance
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 3-6 Access to AP by race/ethnicity—U.S. Public schools: High school class of 2009. SOURCE: The College Board. 2010. The 6th Annual AP Report to the Nation. of underrepresented minorities on the 2009 SAT and ACT is indicative of the trend seen for decades. In a recent report, the College Board presented data showing that although there are increasing numbers of African American, Hispanic, and American Indian students participating in AP, these students still remain underserved and are less successful on AP exams, especially African Americans.36 As shown in Figure 3-6, African American students represent 14.5 percent of the public school graduating class of 2009, and 8.2 percent of the AP examinees (compared to 14.4 percent and 7.8 percent in 2008). Hispanic students represent 15.9 percent of the public school graduating class of 2009 and 15.5 percent of the AP examinees (compared to 15.4 percent and 14.8 percent in 2008). Generally, states have done poorly in closing the equity and excellence gap for minority students, particularly the states with the largest percentage of underrepresented minorities in the 2009 graduating class. This further affirms that these students are not being ade- 36 The College Board. 2010. The 6th Annual AP Report to the Nation. New York, NY: The College Board. The College Board uses an AP Exam score of three or higher to define success. More research is needed to establish the conditions under which AP Exam scores lower than three relate to college success.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads quately prepared for success in college proportionately to white and Asian students. “Major initiatives are needed to ensure adequate preparation of students in middle school and 9th and 10th grades so that all students will have an equitable chance at success when they go on to take AP courses and exams later in high school.” The report cites the National Governor’s Association’s Advanced Placement Expansion Project and the National Math and Science Initiative’s Training and Incentive Program as two major initiatives that are helping schools make progress toward closing the achievement gaps. They demonstrate the importance of state-level policies in expanding access to AP to more diverse students. For example, states with large Hispanic student populations, such as Florida, Texas, and California, all have AP-related multiyear student reform initiatives that use AP as a capstone. States with large African American student populations are only beginning to address these disparities. There is general consensus that the factors that contribute to better performance also impact college enrollment and completion. As there has been greater pressure for improved academic achievement from employers and colleges and universities, some states have increased the number of required mathematics and science courses, and all have adopted content standards in mathematics and science. However, there still is no alignment of high school graduation requirements and first-year college course requirements. FIGURE 3-7 Percentage of high school students taking pre-calculus by race/ethnicity: 1999 and 2009. SOURCE: The College Board, Graph Set 5: Course-Taking Patterns: 1999 and 2009.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads Generally, more high school students have completed more mathematics and science courses since 1990, including more advanced courses. However, an increase in course taking is not sufficient to significantly increase the overall performance of underrepresented minorities. Student success in mathematics is among the most reliable predictors of success in college and the workplace. Students who successfully complete Algebra II as their highest math course in high school are more than five times as likely as students who only complete Algebra I to attain a bachelor’s degree. However, few minority students take higher level math courses in high school as shown in Figure 3-7. Asian students outnumber all other groups in taking pre-calculus and calculus. Reports document a declining student interest in STEM and the fact that too many students are not adequately prepared to succeed in college-level coursework. However, reports consistently show that students who have access to high-level and rigorous coursework and who are taught by teachers with high levels of experience and high expectations for performance are more likely to be prepared for and succeed in the STEM fields regardless of race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status (ACT, 2006; Lleras, 2008). Dr. Ronald F. Ferguson, a senior lecturer in education and policy at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, expects standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, to effectively measure the achievement gap over time. Although more students, especially underrepresented minorities, are taking the SAT, the growth in test takers is reaching deep into the high school student pool and testing lower-achieving students. Others opine that the SAT and ACT are especially poor metrics for measuring trends in the achievement gap because the population of test takers is not stable. These assessments are undertaken only by students who plan to attend college, and the proportion who fall in that group has changed over time. As a result, it is not possible to discern whether changes in the achievement gap reflect changes in performance levels or changes in who is or is not taking the tests. The NAEP 12th grade exam is subject to the same weakness, because high school dropouts are not tested. For this reason, the NAEP 8th grade exam provides a more stable metric with which to judge trends in achievement gaps. NCES surveys such as High School and Beyond (high school class of 1982), the National Educational Longitudinal Study (high school class of 1992), and the Educational Longitudinal Study (high school class of 2004) maintain dropouts in their follow-up samples, so they offer better assessments of the achievement gap at the end of high school than the NAEP or college entry assessments. “The numbers are increasing,” Ferguson warns. “We need better instruction and better instruction is going to require better leadership. The fact that the scores
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads aren’t going up with the numbers [means that] we have to do more than act on a slogan. We have to prepare students for college” 37 The Need for Sustained Systemic Intervention and Reform Federal support for interventions has been agency and program specific, with little cohesion and synergy. Also, the assessments of such interventions tend to document whether they have accomplished their program goals, rather than systemic outcomes. Current measures do not attest to the cumulative impact of these national investments, too few target underrepresented minorities, and there is no systematic way to translate the results of the research into classroom applications. Partially addressing the issues, the Obama administration has issued A Blueprint for Reform to guide the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA),38 replacing the No Child Left Behind Act. It challenges states, districts, and schools to ensure that all students graduating or on track to graduate from high school are ready for college and a career by 2020. The priorities include evidence-based rigorous standards to improve performance in high-need schools, equitable distribution of quality teachers and resources, innovative programs for English Learners, and rewards for performance. The blueprint proposes to strengthen formula grant programs for Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native education, giving more flexibility to tribal education departments in managing programs and services for Indian students within their jurisdiction. The blueprint calls on states to provide high-quality STEM instruction by leveraging federal, state, and local funds to integrate evidence-based, effective mathematics or science programs into the teaching of other academic subjects. It emphasizes the need to provide substantial support to high-need schools, including professional development for teachers and school leaders, high-quality curricula, instructional materials and assessments, and interventions that assure that all students are served effectively. Priority will be given to states adopting common, state-developed, college-and career-ready standards. 37 J. L. Plummer. More diversity among 2009 SAT test takers, scores slightly down, Diverse Education, August 26, 2009. Found at http://diverseeducation.com/cache/print.php?articleId=12973. 38 A Blueprint for Reform: The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. U.S. Department of Education, March 2010.
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