A. WADE BOYKIN Howard University
In recent decades, few topics in American education have received more attention than the academic achievement of "minority group" students from low-income backgrounds. 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 cause for concern. Indeed, children from the domestic cultural groups that have fared the worse in schools constitute the fastest growing school-age population. The communities from which these students come will not be able to reap the benefits of proportionately large numbers of well-educated citizens. But, this also poses a substantial challenge to society at large. As the bar is constantly being raised for the minimal skill and knowledge needed for entry into the workforce and while preparation for the labor markets of the 21st century will require competencies that schools are only recently beginning to acknowledge and appreciate, this society must rely increasingly on a talent pool comprised of people who represent groups that this society has yet found ways to successfully educate. If this challenge is not soon met, the future productivity and well-being of American society could be severely compromised. America can ill afford to have substantial numbers of poor and "minoritygroup" students functioning at the educational margins.
Fortunately, recent years bear witness to an apparent paradigm shift taking place in the American schooling enterprise. Many are losing patience with academic programs, practices, and procedures that are based essentially on hunches, fashions and fads, and good will alone. There is an increased call for schooling to be based on what truly works with the claims substantiated by solid, rigorous, systematic evidence. To be sure, this documentation must be contextualized so that there is understanding of when, where, and for whom certain approaches are effective. However, this does not reduce the