Disparity Among African-American Students

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For years the academic achievement, or more appropriately, underachievement, of African-American students has been a topic that has been greatly researched, discussed and debated by educators and researchers. Much of the significant research is devoted to discovering why students do not achieve at the same level as White students (Samuel, 2014). The achievement gap refers to the disparity in academic performance between groups of students (Porter, 2007).
The goal of this study is to understand the beliefs and experiences of White female novice teachers, and how those have shaped the teachers’ perceptions and instructional practices when working with African American students. This study will delve into the background of each of these participants,
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Indeed, African American students begin school in Kindergarten academically behind their White counterparts, and this gap persists throughout most students’ time in school (Reardon, 2015). There is widespread awareness that there is a significant gap between the educational achievement of the White and the African American population in our nation and that the gap is as old as the nation itself (Barton & Coley, 2010).
Paige and Witty (2010) define the achievement gap as, a complex phenomenon that has powerful tentacles, buried deeply not only in school quality but also in African American home and family life in African American community sociocultural life. The “achievement gap” refers to the disparity in academic performance between groups of students (Porter, 2007). The achievement gap shows up in African American students’ grades, standardized-test scores, and dropout rates. (Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, 2011). Despite some success in raising overall achievement levels, national test data show little change in the achievement gap between African Americans and Whites between 1992 and 2005 (National Center for Education Statistics 2012; Jones, 2011). Identification of the cause or causes of the achievement gap might reveal why the gap has been so difficult to eliminate (Jones,
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Teachers are the ones that can provide a firsthand account of what is happening in the classrooms because 90% percent of the teacher workforce is made up of White females (Feistritzer, 2011). These White novice teachers come into classrooms with little or no concept of what it means to be culturally competent, much less culturally responsiveness. The result of this “lack of awareness” only exacerbates issues such as the achievement gap, discipline issues with certain minority students, as well as, teacher frustration, which contributes to the high attrition rate (Gregory, Skiba, & Noguera, 2010). The bottom line is that teachers are human beings and as such bring to school their own set of cultural and personal characteristics that influence their work. This includes their beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, ethnicity, gender, and social (Irvine,