Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

UNCF Databook Provides Statistical Look at K-12 Education

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

UNCF Databook Provides Statistical Look at K-12 Education

Article excerpt

FAIRFAX, Va. - A new report from The College Fund/UNCF says that African American students begin school eagerly and score about as well as white students on tests of verbal memory and social and developmental skills. But for many, the fourth grade marks the beginning of a downward academic spiral.

The findings, released early this month, are compiled in a new, 370-page reference book devoted to pre-school, primary, and secondary education of African American students. It is the second volume of a three-part portrait of African Americans and education. According to College Fund president and CEO, William H. Gray III, volume II of The African American Education Data Book is less encouraging than the first volume, devoted to higher and adult education. Volume III, which will focus on school-to-work and college trends, is expected to be released in August, said Dr. Michael T. Nettles, executive director of the Frederick Patterson Research Institute, the research arm of The College Fund/UNCF.

Volume II of the Data Book series explores the attitudes and social behavior of African American students in relation to their educational advancement. Parental involvement, school safety, teacher preparation, television viewing, and economic disadvantage are among a number of factors identified as key to the educational experience of African Americans.

"When measured against high standards, as on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, far too many Black children fall short," said Nettles.

According to Gray, volume I, which was released in March, had more good news. Among other things, it documented the growth in college graduation rates among African Americans, particularly women.

"This study," Gray said, "has more negatives. Our next task is to find out why."

While the second volume compiles decades of data from forty national databases and archives, it does not analyze the findings.

Analysis and solutions are urgently needed, according to Gray, "in light of the current debate in higher education and in graduate and professional schools surrounding affirmative action and standardized testing."

Some of the findings in the new study, which includes data gathered through 1994, include:

* On average, African American students watch more television and participate in fewer extra-curricular activities than their white counterparts.

* Although African Americans make up 12.5 percent of the nation's population, they represent more than 16. …

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