Academic journal article High School Journal

Promoting Academic Persistence in African American and Latino High School Students: The Educational Navigation Skills Seminar

Academic journal article High School Journal

Promoting Academic Persistence in African American and Latino High School Students: The Educational Navigation Skills Seminar

Article excerpt

A model intervention for academic persistence and motivation of African American and Latino high school students is provided in this article. The authors provide a theoretical and practical description of The Educational Navigation Skills Seminar (TENSS) as a demonstration of an educational persistence intervention. By reviewing the higher education literature four protective factors (e.g., self-concept, alienation, realistic self-appraisal, and help-seeking strategies) were developed into a curriculum of navigation skills. The authors suggest that pre-college programs should provide "affective based" educational navigation skills to prepare African American and Latino high school students, who are seeking to be the first in their families, to attain higher education.

Introduction

Academic persistence and motivation of African American and Latino high school students has become critical to the discourse of educational equity. While legal, political, and social battles are being fought to hold good the promise of Brown versus Board of Education another battle is being waged for the psychological disposition of those historically marginalized by the United States public education system. Latino and African American students, despite their diversity, contend with social phenomena such as language stigmas, racism, discrimination, sexism, internalized underachievement, and political befuddlement (Crocker, 1999; Graham & Taylor, 2002; Ogbu, 1992; Steele, 1997). The sum effect of annual battles to reify ones intellect and potential in educational settings can have life-long consequences as systems of education change the rules and definition of success randomly. Despite the demonstration of intellectual promise, many students from underprivileged backgrounds carry the label of academically "at-risk" and are often at a disadvantage when attempting to participate in the local or global workforce.

Many academic interventions for African American and Latino students, although well intentioned, have been limited to cognitive abilities. They are typically focused on content remediation, behavioral management, whole school reform, curriculum reform, and/or standardized test preparation (Fashola & Slavin, 2001). Often, the underlying goal for these programs is to raise academic performance and standardized test scores. While cognitive interventions are necessary to confront the widening gaps in standardized test scores and to increase the opportunities for higher education attainment, they often overlook the educational disposition; familial and communal supports; cultural/ethnic/racial learning strategies; and social messages of African American and Latino students (Caldwell, 2000; Gordon, 1999, Hilliard, 1995). Zigler (1966; cf. Gordon, 1999) argues that too much attention has been given to cognitive processes and too little to affective functioning when assessing student development. Consequently, there is very little discussion regarding "academic potential" of African American and Latino students as a result of the over reliance of test scores as the primary determinant of cognitive ability. Academic potential requires the utilization of multiple intelligences in the navigation of educational and social environments. Therefore, it is our position that navigational skills are prerequisites to academic persistence and achievement for African American and Latino students.

The purpose of this article is threefold. First, we address the issue of academic achievement for African American and Latino students. Secondly, we explore the efforts of academic intervention programs and their effectiveness in increasing the educational attainment of African American and Latino students. Specifically, we assert that pre-collage programs for African American and Latino students address both cognitive and affective functioning. Finally, we outline The Educational Navigation Skills Seminar (TENSS), an educational preventative intervention used to supplement a summer enrichment program. …

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