Berk, Robert Jay
Closing the Black-White Achievement Gap: Instructional Strategies in Title I Schools
New Orleans Jewish Day School
Studies the connection between student achievement in reading & the Black-White achievement gap, emphasizing different instructional strategies.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
- Although much of the growth in the achievement gap is due to socioeconomic status, race may be a small contributing factor.
- Results show that the amount teachers use different instructional strategies does vary by the racial make-up of the classroom, but perhaps not as much as the literature would suggest. Teachers of majority Black classes use basic instructional strategies more often than teachers of majority White classes, but no definitive statements can be made in reference to differential instruction.
- Within the LESCP sample of title I schools Black students are more likely to be in low tracks than White students. This finding, however, is confounded by the fact that White students are more likely to be in untracked schools. When students in untracked schools are taken out of the analyses, Black students are no more likely than White students to be in low track classes; they are, however, less likely to be in high track classes and less likely to receive specialized services in pullout classrooms.
- No significant differences were found between pullout and untracked classes in their use of basic instruction for the lowest achieving students or their use of strategies associated with higher order thinking.
- The analyses suggest that it is not possible to make a clear statement that strategies associated with higher-order thinking are better at improving student achievement than basic instructional strategies. Moreover, it appears that some of the instructional variables have the opposite effect on comprehension than they have on vocabulary; a focus on phonics and writing about reading leads to decrease in vocabulary achievement while they lead to gains in comprehension achievement.
- Even students of lower initial achievement levels make gains in untracked and high track classes -and these gains are larger than the gains they would have made in low track classes.\
- The Black-White achievement gap remains significant even after controlling for contextual factors such as socioeconomic status and IEP status. The largest predictor of the achievement gap. However, remains prior achievement. Thus, these data show that the Black-White achievement gap in Title I schools does exist, and may grow slightly over time.
- Even though Black students are more likely to be exposed to more basic instructional strategies, the analyses in this dissertation show that such exposure is not necessarily bad for student achievement.
- Only one instructional strategy, amount of time spent on vocabulary, was more effective for Black students than for 'typical' students -and only for leading to increased achievement in vocabulary, not comprehension.
- Tests if either horizontal (everyone gets the same instruction), vertical (unequal instruction for unequal) or oblique (each student in the same instructional milieu in mixed-ability level classes) equity of instruction leads to the greatest gains in achievement for all students. Find some support for oblique equity of instruction but is not definite, therefore cannot firmly support this idea.
Ability Groups, Academic Achievement, Achievement Gap, Context, Integration, Racial Composition, Reading, Tracking
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
all Title I schools in the LESCP
Unit of Analysis:
Educator, School, Student
- Data comes from the Longitudinal Evaluation of School Change and Performance (LESCP) years 1997 to 1999..
- Student achievement scores on the Stanford-9.
- This dissertation looks at the relationship between track and instructional strategies as well as the relationship between track and instructional strategies as well as the relationship between track and achievement in order to gain a better understanding of how tracking affects student achievement of Title I students and the Black-White achievement gap.
- Data on student performance, teacher behavior and opinions, and school policy environment were collected in each of the 71 sampled Title I schools during the spring of 1997, spring of 1998 and spring of 1999.
- Data were collected from slightly more than 4500 students per grade each year of the study.
- Surveys were mailed to learn about curriculum, instructional practice, knowledge of standards, assessment methods, professional development and parental involvement.
- DV: Student performance on SAT-9 reading test
- IV: Student characteristics (SES, Race, tracking), Teacher characteristics (Race, Teacher competency), School and Classroom Characteristics (School Size, SES and Race, Instruction and Race.