Monday, November 20, 2006

The End to the Academic Achievement Gap?

It has been a few years since the No Child Left Behind Act was introduced. It was meant to close the gap between the minority and the white students, yet according to many articles like the one I linked in the title above, the gap has not closed as it had been projected. I won't enter a rant on the government's efficiency in accomplishing their projections, but I will deter from all the journalist who are writing articles to bring light upon the No Child Left Behind Act which has not accomplished its task. Instead I want to discuss something that is directly involved with the students whose test scores are looked upon with curious eyes.

I think we have to begin with some questions, are minority students terrible students? Are whites and asians better students than others? Or perhaps it refers back to family. I think the data is a bit misleading. There are great hispanic, black, indian students. I have met them, studied with them, even enter into conversations full of depth with them.

The case though refers to family. A hispanic family, whose parents work jobs in order to maintain the household, do no have time to speak to their children about the daily news or minor teachings. While as the white family has parents with more free time to support and nurture their children through their school days. I am not going to stereotype the minority groups and explain the theories behind why each group's stereotypical family does not have time to encourage their children in school. Not that they do not want to, but sometimes there is a higher need. Perhaps both parents work leading to the eldest to not worry about school as much as his/her siblings. Other times the parents are never there allowing the child to do as he pleases. There have even been studies upon white families give their children incentives (money, car, others goods) for doing well in school while as, the minority groups usually can not afford to give such incentives to their chidlren.

The No Child Left Behind is a kind a thoughtful policy, but let us face it. You can have all the opportunities you would like, but without allowing the children to have an incentive to study, you only have an open door that leads to an empty room. The tests do not prove that the children of minority groups are less intelligent than the whites and asians. The tests prove that families that are well off create children who study better and have better test taking skills. Yet, if we alter the test and create a test that would test upon survival skills (not neccessarily in the middle of the jungle, but what is needed to survive); we may find the minority students to perform better. It would only make sense as most minorities have spent time and gained experience developing the skills. Now I am not preaching to create policies to close the income gap, only wished to deter the topic from No Child Left Behind. A cute policy, with no gain due to problems it was not meant to solve.

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