Critical Questions for
Jacqueline Jordan Irvine
The failure of African American students to achieve in America's schools is well documented. On every indicator of academic achievement--the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), the National Assessment of Educational Progress, college attendance--African American students' performance lags behind their white, Hispanic, and Asian peers ( Irvine, 1990).
Although African American and Hispanic students have shown increased performance on standardized test scores, the gains have been relatively small and inconsistent over time. Consider the following data ( Bracey, 1992) regarding the SAT: Assuming that white scores remain the same, black students would not catch up with their white counterparts until the year 2100. Or ponder this reality: In 1992, only 1 percent of African American students (as compared to 8 percent of white students) scored 600 or above on the verbal section of the SAT.
The continuing failure of African American students in schools has led to the emergence of many African-centered public schools across the country; among the most notable are the Atlanta and Milwaukee initiatives.
The Atlanta Public Schools Afrocentric Immersion Project, started in 1989 with a $1 million budget, was located in about 109 schools and affected nearly 60,000 students. A change in school leadership and a focus on improving state- mandated achievement objectives have resulted in only a few schools in the system currently implementing the curriculum. As originally conceived, the Atlanta Afrocentric Immersion Project was based on the philosophy that curriculum