Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Sankofa Healing and Restoration: A Case Study of African American Excellence and Achievement in an Urban School

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Sankofa Healing and Restoration: A Case Study of African American Excellence and Achievement in an Urban School

Article excerpt

Introduction

African American student achievement is generally falsely propagated in educational research (King, 2005; Perry, Steele, & Hilliard, 2003). Most research on African American education focuses on the "achievement gap," which erringly compares Black and White students' test scores, without accounting for school inequalities and structural barriers to achievement. Additionally, the "achievement gap" narrative purports that minority students should aspire to perform like their White counterparts, who unwittingly are also underachieving. "Achievement gap" studies falsely suggest that there are measurable differences between Black and White student intelligence. The history of this pseudo-research dates back to nineteenth century propaganda, which was submersed in racism (Ferber, 1998; Gutherie, 1998; Hartigan, 2010; Sanders, 1969; Wiggan, 2007). Results from these studies are irreversibly damaging and spurious. Instead, the "achievement gap" should be more properly titled "opportunity" or "resource" gap. There are undeniable structural differences in the treatment of students across schools (Kozol, 2005). Additionally, there are observable practices that work to reverse student underachievement, including having a certified teacher in the content area, reducing class sizes, developing multicultural curricula, and utilizing culturally responsive pedagogy (Bloom & Owens, 2013; Chenoweth, 2007, 2009). This present research debunks preconceived beliefs about the "achievement gap" and high performing schools (Bloom & Owens, 2013; Chenoweth, 2007, 2009).

The erroneous claims regarding the "achievement gap" ignore the fact that all racial groups in the United States are underperforming (NCES, 2013a, 2013b; PISA, 2012). Results from both national and international assessments support this finding. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which is a national research organization sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, confirms that no racial group is at or above 60% proficiency in mathematics or reading (NCES, 2013 a, 2013b). Additionally, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which is an international comparative test, reports that all U.S. students fair below other industrialized Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations in critical subjects like mathematics and science (PISA, 2012). These startling statistics have led educational researchers and policymakers to create reform initiatives in U.S. schools. Yet, in recent years, educational reform has become synonymous with testing and assessment. Recent assessment efforts, such as No Child Left Behind and Common Core State Standards, focus on testing African American students without preemptively redressing systemic inequalities in schools. Some of the disparities include racial bias in discipline policies, unqualified teachers, disproportionate funding, and inequalities in course offerings (Delpit, 2006; King, 2005; Kozol, 2005; Kunjufu, 2002; Mickelson, 2001; Milner & Hoy, 2003). Another glaring disparity is the lack of non-hegemonic perspectives provided in school curricula.

As a result, most students seldom learn any Black history beyond slavery and the Civil Rights Movement in schools. With few opportunities to learn about African and African American contributions, the curriculum lacks relevancy for Black students in particular. More importantly, the strategic removal of African contributions in school curricula reifies cultural hegemony. It is important to acknowledge these educational conditions in order to better comprehend African American student achievement with greater accuracy.

Despite the educational disparities mentioned, there are several high-performing urban schools such as Centennial Place Elementary in Atlanta, Dayton's Bluff Achievement Plus Elementary School in St. Paul [Minnesota], M. Hall Stanton Elementary in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania], and Osmond A. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.