Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Educating the Whole Child: The Talent Quest Model for Educational Policy and Practice

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Educating the Whole Child: The Talent Quest Model for Educational Policy and Practice

Article excerpt

This article reports on school reform interventions and outcomes of the Howard University Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (CRESPAR)/Capstone Institute, which uses evidenced-based strategies to promote the academic achievement and social competence of Black children, especially Black children who are from low-income Black families. This article includes a description of the "participant action research" and the "whole child" approaches employed by CRESPAR/Capstone Institute and the Talent Quest Model (TQM) of school reform. Selected program components and empirical reports of Talent Quest research and development projects are discussed, along with challenges in conducting school reform interventions. Implications for policy and practice are also discussed.

In recent decades few topics have received more attention than the academic achievement of "minority group" children from low-income backgrounds (Boykin, 1994; Comer, 2004, 2005; Delpit, 2003; King, 2005). Yet, in spite of such concentrated attention, all too many such students continue to perform at unacceptably low levels in U.S. public schools. This is obviously a cause for concern and alarm. The communities from which these students come will be unable to reap the benefits of proportionately large numbers of well-educated citizens which also poses a substantial challenge for society at large. The bar is constantly being raised for the essential skills and knowledge needed even for entry-level positions into the workforce. Preparation for the labor markets of the 21st century will require competencies that many schools have only recently begun to acknowledge, appreciate, and address in meaningful ways. Yet, our society must rely on a talent pool increasingly comprised of people that this society has failed to educate successfully. If this challenge is not met soon, the future productivity and well-being of American society could be severely compromised. America cannot afford to have substantial numbers of low-income and minority group students functioning at the educational margins. In order to appreciably alter the educational fates of disenfranchised children in America, piecemeal, narrowly focused approaches will be of limited value.

Comprehensive school reform initiatives are needed that are supported by the best available research evidence (Darling-Hammond, 2005). Moreover, initiatives are needed that appreciate the educational value of cultural diversity and that strive to build upon the cultural assets that children from minority, low-income communities bring with them to school. Indeed, there is a particular need for a school reform approach that draws on the collective professional experiences and expertise of an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners like those at Howard University's (CRESPAR)/Capstone Institute. This team has devoted its professional lives to addressing the educational concerns of underserved populations with a special appreciation for vantage points and voices born out of the lived experiences of these populations (Boykin & Bailey, 2000a, 2000b).

The purpose of this article is to report on school reform interventions and outcomes of CRESPAR/Capstone Institute-evidenced-based strategies that work to promote the academic achievement and social competence of Black children, especially Black children who are from low-income Black families. The authors cover several areas: (a) a description of the (CRESPAR)/Capstone Institute, (b) paradigms shifts where the "participant action research" and the "whole child" approaches in educating Black children are used, (c) TQM of school reform and a brief description of selected program components, (d) empirical reports of Talent Quest research and development projects, (e) challenges and solutions in conducting school reform interventions, and (g) conclusions and implication of CRESPAR/Capstone Institute's work for policy and practice. …

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