The problem discussed in this report is the low academic achievement of minority students at Granby Elementary School as measured by Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores. The purpose of the applied research study conducted was to recommend to the administrators and teachers of Granby Elementary School possible solutions to the problem of low SOL scores of minority students at the school. At the time of the study, Granby Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia, provided education to 581 students, 77.3% of whom were minority students. There was a significant gap in reading, writing, and mathematics achievement between the minority students and their White counterparts.
The rationale for the study was the urgent need to reduce this achievement gap to improve the self-efficacy of minority students, boost workplace satisfaction of teachers, and increase funding of the school. A single question guided the study: How can the problem of low SOL scores of minority students at Granby Elementary School be solved? Three types of data were collected to answer the research question. First, five interviews were conducted with teachers and authorities at Granby Elementary School. Second, a survey was administered to five teachers. Third, a focus group was conducted with a purposeful sample of eight teachers and authorities.
About the Investigator
is a special education teacher at Granby Elementary School. She has been in the Norfolk Public School system for 5 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master of arts degree in special education with severe and profound disabilities from Norfolk State University. She earned an educational specialist degree in elementary curriculum and instruction from Liberty University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in education from Liberty University with a cognate in elementary curriculum and instruction.
Kiana was previously employed in general education in Grades 3–7 as well as in self-contained kindergarten. Her experience in various education positions has allowed her to constantly evolve and quickly adapt to the needs of the students and teachers she supported. As a special education teacher at Granby Elementary School, Kiana is motivated to improve minority students’ test scores on the Virginia Standards of Learning assessment. Because she is currently employed in the school, she recognizes that she may have brought bias and assumptions to this study. However, as a researcher, she believes that through a systematic research approach she limited the effects of any bias.
Permission to Conduct Research
Permission to conduct this study was obtained from the principal of Granby Elementary School. The permission also allowed use of information available about Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores. The permission letter appears in Appendix A.
Ethical practice for applied research requires minimizing risks to participants. The researcher therefore ensured that participants did not have to endure more than minimal risks. Pseudonyms were used in the transcripts of the focus group and interviews to protect the privacy of the participants. Although the interviews and the focus group were conducted on campus, the researcher ensured that no outside person could overhear discussion. The survey did not collect names of participants. SOL scores were taken from sources available publically. All information concerning the study was stored on a password-protected laptop with installed antivirus software. The researcher aimed to solve a specific problem at a specific location. The resulting information will not be shared or distributed outside Granby Elementary School. Institutional review board approval was therefore unnecessary.
The purpose of this applied research study was to recommend to the administrators and teachers of Granby Elementary School possible solutions to the problem of low Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) scores of minority students at the school. This section provides background information about the organization, introduces the problem, discusses its significance, and declares the purpose of the study. This section also states the central research question and defines key terms used throughout the study.
Granby Elementary School, a public educational entity located in Norfolk, Virginia, was the educational site for this study. The stated mission of Granby Elementary School was to “ensure that all families and students are engaged in purposeful learning, students are using metacognition and comprehension strategies across all curriculum areas to ensure life-long learning” (Granby Elementary School, n.d., para. 1). At the time of the study, the school had 581 students: 59.2% were African American, 22.7% were White, and 8.1% were Hispanic (Virginia Department of Education [VDoE], 2020a).
Almost 97% of the students qualified for free or discounted lunch, which indicated that the majority of students were from financially disadvantaged families (VDoE, 2020a). With regard to student success and quality of education provided, School Digger (2021) ranked the school 996th out of 1,105 elementary schools in Virginia. The student–teacher ratio had dropped for 3 consecutive years since 2017, reaching 13.5 in 2020 (VDoE, 2020a). In 2019, the school’s SOL scores in both mathematics and English reading were below the averages for both the county and state (VDoE, 2020a).
Introduction to the Problem
The problem was that African American students at Granby Elementary School historically had lower academic achievement than other students, as measured by SOL scores. The race-based achievement gap in education has remained a considerable issue in the United States since it came to the attention of educators and policy makers in the 1960s (King, 2017). Gilar et al. (2019) described academic achievement as the extent to which a student achieves short- or long-term educational goals. The typical way to quantify academic achievement is to use test scores or grade point averages, depending on the situation. The achievement gap is dangerous not only for African Americans but also for the well-being of the entire nation because it spreads inequality (King, 2017).
SOL scores indicate that the achievement gap has been present in Virginia. African American students have had lower average scores on achievement tests than those of other students (VDoE, 2020b). In particular, the average SOL scores of White students were 86 in reading, 85 in writing, 91 in history and social sciences, 86 in mathematics, and 89 in science (VDoE, 2020b). During the same period, the average SOL scores of African American students were 67 in reading, 65 in writing, 75 in history and social sciences, 68 in mathematics, and 69 in science (VDoE, 2020b). The average scores of African American students were approximately 20 points lower than those of White students in all subject areas.
The SOL scores at Granby Elementary School also indicate a significant gap in academic achievement between minority students and their White counterparts. In 2019, the average SOL reading score of White students was 79, while the corresponding average scores for African American and Hispanic students were 56 and 67, respectively (VDoE, 2020a). In mathematics, the average score for White students was 74, compared with 60 for Hispanic students and 61 for African American students (VDoE, 2020a).
Significance of the Problem
Solving the problem of low SOL scores among minority students at Granby Elementary has become crucial because 77.3% of the students at the school at the time of the study belonged to an ethnic minority (VDoE, 2020a), underachievement of minority students was significantly impacting the average achievement of all students at the school. According to Lanese (2018), teachers and schools are evaluated by government authorities based on the results of standardized test scores, such as SOL scores.
Standardized test scores are correlated with increased government funding (Lanese, 2018). The leaders of schools that receive funding increases can hire new teachers and teacher assistants, which can further increase student achievement. According to Hemelt et al. (2021), teacher assistants have a positive influence on math and reading test scores in elementary schools. Improving minority students’ SOL scores can thus increase the achievement of a school and improve the workplace satisfaction of teachers. This, in turn, can improve teacher retention. Improving test scores can also increase the self-efficacy of minority students, which promotes positive relationships within classrooms.
The purpose of this study was to recommend to the administrators and teachers of Granby Elementary School possible solutions to the problem of low Virginia SOL scores of minority students at the school. The researcher used a multimethod approach that included both qualitative and quantitative methods. First, five semistructured interviews were conducted with teachers and administrators who had knowledge relevant to the topic.
Second, a Likert-scale survey was developed to help understand how, based on the perceptions of the stakeholders, the problem of low SOL scores among minority students at Granby Elementary School can be solved. A sample of teachers completed the survey in Google Forms. Descriptive statistics, correlation, and multiple regression were applied to the surveyed teachers’ opinions to assess the appropriateness and feasibility of the recommendations provided in the interviews. Third, two focus groups were created to further develop the understanding of how the SOL scores can be improved. The results of the analysis were evaluated in light of the findings of other researchers.
Central Research Question
A single research question guided this study: How can the problem of low SOL scores among minority students at Granby Elementary School be solved?
This section defines key terms used throughout this report:
- Academic achievement—“the communicative (oral, reading, writing), mathematical, science, social science, and thinking skills and competencies that enable a student to succeed in school and society” (Lindholm-Leary & Borsato, 2006, p. 176).
- Achievement gap—“academic performance difference between Whites and minorities” (Carpenter et al., 2006, p. 116).
- Assessment—The term “assessment” has a broad range of meanings, including the process faculty use to grade student course assignments, standardized testing imposed on institutions as part of increased pressure for external accountability, an any activity designed to collect information on the success of a program, course, or university curriculum (Lteef, 2019, p. 2).
- High-stakes testing—“tests that carry serious consequences for students or educators” (Marchant, 2004, p. 2).
- Intervention—a set of steps a teacher takes to help a child improve in their area of need by removing educational barriers (Lynch, 2019, para. 2).
- Minority students—“those who do not belong to a region’s or nation’s majority racial or ethnic group—may be subject to discrimination, whether sanctioned or passive, that can affect their educational achievement” (RAND, n.d., para. 1).
- Standardized testing—tests that require students to answer questions from a question pool. The questions are consistently graded to inform teachers about each student’s achievement level (Herman & Golan, 1993).
The purpose of this applied research study was to recommend to the administrators and teachers of Granby Elementary School possible solutions to the problem of low Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) scores of minority students at the school. This section of the report provides a review of existing literature concerning the research problem. First, the section discusses the significance of standardized testing. Second, the section provides a review of the historical background of the educational achievement gap in the United States. Third, the section discusses reasons for the emergence of the achievement gap in standardized test scores. Fourth, the section provides an overview of strategies that can reduce the achievement gap between minority students and their White counterparts in public schools.
Educators in the modern United States have faced a considerable problem in the form of underachievement of African American students relative to their White counterparts (Bowman et al., 2018). The problem spurred many researchers to attempt to understand the factors affecting achievement of students in school (Bowman et al., 2018). Some researchers have argued that cultural and racial differences do not matter because only social, familial, school, and economic factors affect academic achievement (Gilar et al., 2019). However, others have found significant correlations between racial identity and academic achievement using rigorous research methods (Wang et al., 2020).
Those working at the frontiers of education and curriculum development have claimed that the central reason for underachievement of African American students is inadequacy of existing curricula (Johnson, 2018; King, 2017). When African American students do not see themselves represented in literature, they cannot relate to the experiences and facts discussed in class (Bowman et al., 2018). Curriculum change thus appears necessary to addressing the problem of underachievement of African American students (Bowman et al., 2018). The subsections that follow review existing literature regarding the problem of the achievement gap in American schools and how to address that problem using various strategies.
Standardized testing has become a crucial part of both educators’ and students’ lives (Gray, 2019). Rapposelli (2021) defined standardized testing as any form of test that requires all test takers to answer the same questions, or a selection of questions from a common bank of questions, in the same way, and that is scored in a “standard” or consistent manner, which makes it possible to compare the relative performance of individual students or groups of students. (p. 3)
In other words, standardized testing is a measure of the academic achievement of students, which allows comparison of test results. The use of standardized testing brings with it numerous advantages. Standardized testing is the most reliable and objective way to measure academic achievement (Gray, 2019). Federal funding and grant distribution have become directly tied to standardized testing, and high standardized test results can attract additional money (Gray, 2019). In other words, standardized testing provides teachers and school leaders with a way to measure attainment of their goals if they want to attract more funding.
However, scholars and educators have also discussed numerous drawbacks of standardized testing. One of the most commonly mentioned disadvantages is increased stress and tension associated with testing (Gray, 2019; Pietromonaco, 2021; Rapposelli, 2021). Trauma associated with standardized testing can negatively affect the mental health of students (Rapposelli, 2021). Standardized testing often shifts the priorities of students from learning to studying for tests (Gray, 2019).
Such a priority shift limits the long-term effects of education, which is a significant flaw of standardized testing (Pietromonaco, 2021). Standardized testing may also lead students and teachers to cheat, because these stakeholders have a shared interest in obtaining better test results rather than superior education (Rapposelli, 2021). Standardized testing may also be responsible for the growing achievement gap (Gray, 2019). Because standardized testing does not take into consideration differences among students based on gender, culture, socioeconomic status, and language, educators within schools subject to standardized testing cannot vary their curricula according to the abilities and needs of students, which limits the ability of those educators to improve learning outcomes (Rapposelli, 2021). However, despite numerous drawbacks of standardized testing, the lack of well-established alternatives has allowed it to remain the most realizable measure of academic success.
Factors Affecting Academic Achievement
Many factors—social, economic, personal, familial, and school-related—act in a complicated way to affect the academic achievement of students in schools. Personal factors that affect academic achievement include application of self-regulation strategies, learning strategies, and study techniques that directly impact the level of achievement of students in kindergarten through Grade 12 (K–12; Gilar et al., 2019).
Motivation and attitude toward studies also have a significant impact on the academic achievement of students (Preckel & Brunner, 2016). For example, positive attitudes toward teachers, curriculum, and school, in general, are associated with improved achievement (Preckel & Brunner, 2016). Castejón et al. (2016) concluded that overachieving students appreciate their academic self-concept, personal self-concept, and learning goals better than other students. Overachieving students are also more honest and emotionally stable than underachieving students (Castejón et al., 2016).
Familial factors are also crucial for improving the academic performance of students. Gilar et al. (2019) mentioned that the expectations of a student’s family members and the education level of the student’s parents directly impact the student’s academic achievement. Relationships with parents also correlate with test results and grade point average (Castejón et al., 2016). Chew (2018) conducted a study and identified family income as a considerable factor contributing to the academic achievement of students. The effect was particularly strong for families with income below the poverty level. Family composition also influenced student academic performance: Students from single-parent families and multigenerational households had lower grades than students from husband-and-wife families.
Researchers have not reached a consensus regarding whether racial and cultural differences constitute an essential factor that contributes to the academic achievement of students. Miller-Cotto and Byrnes (2016) conducted a meta-analysis and found at least 46 articles published between 1996 and 2016 that discussed the matter, indicating it has been a popular subject for scholars. The results reported varied considerably: Some scholars claimed that racial and cultural background was a central determinant of academic performance, but others argued that the effect of this background was insignificant (Miller-Cotto & Byrnes, 2016).
Miller-Cotto and Byrnes concluded that the effect of racial and cultural identity was significant but small, because the achievement gaps between students of different backgrounds were due to other covariates, such as family economic status, self-efficacy problems, and school underfinancing. However, Johnson (2018) claimed that researchers who conduct qualitative and quantitative studies have often been disconnected from the real lives of African American students. Based on the existence of a significant achievement gap between minority students and their White counterparts, Johnson argued that race and culture are crucial determinants of academic achievement.
Achievement Gap in K–12
The problem of the achievement gap between African American students and their White counterparts has been a matter of heated discussion among scholars, policy makers, and educators. Anderson (2016) stated that African American students in the United States were in an educational crisis. In 2016, the National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that 32% of White Americans performed at or above the proficient level at their 12th-grade exam, however, only 7% of Americans overall could reach the proficient level (Anderson, 2016). This implies that African Americans were less likely to achieve sufficient ACT scores than White students (Anderson, 2016).
Bowman et al. (2018) reported that African American students were also more likely to drop out of school than students belonging to any other racial group. Quantitative researchers have confirmed significant differences in students’ test results based on cultural identity at all educational levels (Wang et al., 2020; Allen, 2008). For instance, Wang et al. (2020) found that African American students had lower performance in math and reading when compared with White students. The achievement gap is dangerous not only for African Americans but also for the well-being of the entire nation, because it spreads inequality (Allen, 2008).
The achievement gap first emerged in the United States in the 17th century (Allen, 2008). For instance, the Massachusetts Act of 1647 established public schooling in the cities, but not for everyone (Allen, 2008). Those belonging to racial or cultural minority groups were not the targets of this and many later education reforms, which led to the achievement gap (Allen, 2008). In the late 20th century, the achievement gap narrowed because of multiple civil rights reforms that allowed minority students to receive education similar to that of their White counterparts (Allen, 2008). However, years of segregation, racism, discrimination, slavery, Black codes, and social disfranchisement have had long-lasting effects on the achievement of minority students in the United States (Bowman et al., 2018). The achievement gap has thus remained an issue of concern.
Reasons for the Achievement Gap
Numerous researchers have aimed to assess the reasons for the gap in academic achievement of students. Bowman et al. (2018) addressed the problem systematically by assessing several factors simultaneously. Their results indicated that developmental differences, poverty, racism, curriculum, cultural differences, and insufficient teacher training have led to the appearance of the achievement gap (Bowman et al., 2018). The researchers suggested that all stakeholders need to change their perceptions of education. Everyone needs to understand that education starts before school and extends beyond good test scores (Bowman et al., 2018).
Policy makers need to ensure that the education system takes into consideration the learning experiences of minority students and fosters partnerships among students, families, teachers, and school authorities (Bowman et al., 2018). Curricular change is also required to accommodate the cultural and developmental differences of children (Bowman et al., 2018). The reasons for the achievement gap are diverse and must be addressed systematically.
Racism and Poverty
One of the central suggestions made by Bowman et al. (2018) is that racism is one of the central factors contributing to the achievement gap. The researchers claimed that illegal deprivation of human rights lasting generations has affected the relationship between White and African American students (Bowman et al., 2018). Poverty has also had a tremendous impact on African American students, who have been more likely to have low-income backgrounds (Anderson, 2016). African American students living in poverty have had to deal with toxic stress caused by violence, neglect, inconsistent care, and unloving adults (Bowman et al., 2018).
This has often resulted in intellectual development problems (Bowman et al., 2018). However, according to Johnson (2018), being poor and being African American are not the same thing. Despite correlations between racial identity and income, racial identity is not itself characterizable by socioeconomic factors (Johnson, 2018). Trying to describe African Americans as a sum of demographic, social, and economic factors ignores the history of oppression of African Americans and blames families for their financial problems, their low levels of education, and the academic underperformance of their children (Johnson, 2018). Both poverty and racism are crucial factors that explain the achievement gap between African American and White students.
The concept of cultural identity is crucial to understanding differences in academic achievement among various racial groups. For instance, the majority of teachers and students perceive the dialect of English that African Americans speak as “bad English” (Bowman et al., 2018). However, development of this dialect began during the transatlantic slave trade, when African slaves—who spoke a variety of languages—had to develop a common language for communication (Bowman et al., 2018).
As another example, consider that many parents and grandparents of African American students were taught to agree with those in authority and suppress their own opinions (Bowman et al., 2018). However, teachers of students who inherited this behavior have often interpreted the students’ failure to express their opinions as an academic problem (Bowman et al., 2018). This interpretation indicates a significant gap in the education of teachers who fail to acknowledge cultural differences.
Teachers encounter problems with cultural differences when they cannot adapt their teaching models based on student culture. Modern urban classrooms have become increasingly diverse in terms of culture, language, and race, a situation that requires culturally competent teachers (Kieran & Anderson, 2019). However, there is a significant gap in existing research regarding which approaches best help teachers meet the individual needs of culturally diverse students (Kumar et al., 2018). Interdisciplinary research is needed to create a framework for the promotion of culturally responsive education (Kumar et al., 2018).
One promising such framework is the universal design for learning approach, a collection of principles that teachers can use to provide culturally responsive education without understanding the specifics of every culture (Kieran & Anderson, 2019). However, additional research is needed to evaluate the utility of the framework.
Another cultural issue applies to African American students in particular: African Americans may dislike their cultural identity and wish they were White (Anderson, 2016). This phenomenon has often led to low self-esteem and dissatisfaction with the learning process (Anderson, 2016). Another issue has been that the majority of teachers in public schools in the United States have been White women, and the majority of principals have been White men (Johnson, 2018). This implies that neither teachers nor principals have been able to appreciate the cultural differences of African American students, unless they have undergone systematic training (Johnson, 2018).
Access to Education
Existing disparities in access to education have also led to emergence of the achievement gap. According to Johnson (2018), leaders of school districts have failed to provide equal opportunities for African American students for a wide variety of reasons. Johnson stated that such leaders have tended to view the integration of African American students as an onerous duty rather than a foundation to build upon. Access to high-quality education has thus remained a factor contributing to the growth of the achievement gap.
Although minority students have gained access to education similar to that of White students, access to education has continued to impact minority students indirectly. Assari et al. (2021) claimed that the education level of a student’s parents has a direct impact on the academic achievement of the student. The average level of education of the parents of minority students has remained lower than that of the parents of White students (Assari et al., 2021). One reason for this disparity is lack of access to education in the past (Assari et al., 2021). Parents of minority students who lacked access to education also earned less than White parents, which meant they were also less able than White parents to support the education of their children.
Many researchers have discussed the link between discipline and academic achievement. Pearman et al. (2019) conducted a large-scale quantitative study using nationwide data to assess correlations between discipline and achievement gaps. The researchers did find a significant correlation between the discipline gap and the achievement gap separating Hispanic students and White students (Pearman et al., 2019). They also found a correlation between the discipline gap and the achievement gap separating Black students and White students (Pearman et al., 2019). However, the researchers did not identify causal relationships corresponding to these correlations, as it was not the purpose of the study.
Gregory and Roberts (2017) assessed how discipline of Black students affects their academic achievement. They found that Black students are at greater risk of suspension (Gregory & Roberts, 2017). This leads to lost instruction time, which in turn hurts their test scores (Gregory & Roberts, 2017). The discipline gap emerges as early as prekindergarten and grows wider throughout high school (Gopalan & Nelson, 2019). Black and Hispanic students are more likely than other students to socialize in unfavorable discipline environments, which often interferes with their ability to participate in academic activities.
Ratcliff et al. (2017) confirmed the correlation between student behavior and achievement gaps with an observational study. The researchers aimed to compare the behaviors of teachers and students in classes with achievement gaps and without achievement gaps. Student rebellion and student off-task behavior were more common in classes with achievement gaps (Ratcliff et al., 2017). Students with discipline problems in a class may therefore have impacted the achievement gap in that class; however, Ratcliff et al. did not test for causality.
Researchers have been challenging the widely believed idea that psychological factors affect the achievement of students; however, the evidence regarding the importance of these factors has remained mixed. In particular, Dixson et al. (2017) conducted a quantitative study of the influence of several psychological factors on the achievement of African American students. The researchers demonstrated that psychological constructs, including grit, growth mindset, ethnic identity, and other group orientation had no significant effect on academic achievement of high-performing African American high school students after controlling for age, sex, and socioeconomic status (Dixson et al., 2017).
Dixson et al.’s (2017) results are inconsistent with the findings of other researchers. In particular, Jordt et al. (2017) conducted an experimental study by providing psychological training interventions to students. The interventions positively impacted the participants’ academic achievement (Jordt et al., 2017). This implies that psychological and emotional factors affect the gap in achievement between minority students and their White counterparts; however, affirmation intervention can mitigate the effects of these factors.
Curricular problems have also contributed to the achievement gap. Those working at the frontiers of curriculum development have acknowledged that existing curricula are predominantly White, which implies that educators often overlook history and literature (Childs, 2017; Johnson, 2018; King, 2017). What is important for White students may not be important for African American students, because their cultural identities differ. For instance, July 4, 1776, means less for African Americans than June 19, 1865, or Juneteenth (Rainone, 2020). School curricula have often misrepresented the history of African Americans.
One of the most vivid cases of such misrepresentation was the picturing of slaves as content with their position (King, 2017). Although such racist descriptions have left curricula, the majority of textbooks have continued to adopt the point of view of White people (Anderson, 2016). This has often led to a Eurocentric emphasis in narration of the history of the United States and reduction of the teaching of African American history to slavery and the civil rights movement (Childs, 2017).
Inadequate curriculum has contributed in at least two ways to the gap in achievement between African American and White K–12 students. First, African American students cannot relate to stories told in history classes and writing studied during literature classes (Dahir, 2019). Inadequate curriculum thus leads to loss of interest in school and, eventually, decreased academic performance (Dahir, 2019). Second, African American students start to picture their cultural identity as based on vulnerability or misfortune (Anderson, 2016). Even in predominantly African American schools, teachers have failed to take opportunities to narrate the history of the United States from the perspective of the lived experiences of African Americans.
Overview of Strategies for Addressing the Achievement Gap
Scholars, educators, and policy makers have developed numerous strategies to address the problem of the achievement gap among minority students. For instance, Bowman et al. (2018) listed recommendations including training teachers in cultural literacy, working in partnership with families, setting high expectations while acknowledging cultural differences, and planning for the prevention of difficult behavior.
Hill (2020) explored the opinions of family members of minority students and concluded that staff members should genuinely care for all students, use a variety of instructional methods to meet individual needs of students, and create healthy and inclusive environments for integration of cultural diversity. Wang et al. (2020) mentioned the importance of cultural diversity as a critical success factor. Dahir (2019) offered a strategic approach to the problem by promoting the pragmatic cultural model, which allows African American students to develop their identities while attaining the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in society. The sections that follow discuss these in greater detail.
Authors have frequently cited improving instruction practices as a strategy that can affect achievement gaps at the school level. Tailoring instruction to the audience is crucial for closing the achievement gap (Atlay et al., 2019; Bowman et al., 2018; Yue et al., 2018). Instruction that activates student participation is not necessarily the answer because applying universal instruction for all students in a class may negatively affect the achievement of disadvantaged students (Atlay et al., 2019). For instance, Atlay et al. (2019) found that the impact of cognitive activation was correlated with student socioeconomic status. Cognitive activation implies using new information to activate information they have already had in mind.This implies that some methods of instruction that improve the overall achievement of students may nevertheless increase the achievement gap.
Flipped classroom instruction had an effect on the achievement gap similar to that of cognitive activation. Flipped classroom intrusions imply that students learn new material at home and discuss it during the class. Setren et al. (2021) conducted a randomized controlled trial in which students received flipped classroom instructions. The intervention had a positive effect on the short-term academic achievement of students; however, it also widened the achievement gap (Setren et al., 2021). Flipped classroom instruction favored White students, male students, and high-achieving students over other students (Setren et al., 2021). In other words, flipped classroom instruction harmed underachieving students. The benefits of flipped classroom instruction faded over time, but its effects on the achievement gap persisted (Setren et al., 2021).
However, He et al. (2018) also conducted a randomized controlled trial and found that partially flipped classroom instruction had a positive effect on all students. Partially flipped instructions also had a greater effect on underachieving students than on other students, which led He et al. to the conclusion that flipped classroom instruction has the potential to narrow the achievement gap. One difficulty interpreting the conflicting findings of He et al. and Setren et al. (2021) is that He et al. used a sample of college students, but Setren et al. recruited participants from public schools. The conflict may therefore reflect a difference in the effects of flipped classroom instruction between public school and college students.
Yue et al. (2018) aimed to determine how supplemental instruction affects the academic achievement of students. Supplemental instruction implies using additional individual instruction for students that may need it. The researchers revealed that the more disadvantaged students were, the more they benefited from supplemental instruction (Yue et al., 2018). This implies that supplemental instruction can reduce achievement in K–12 students (Yue et al., 2018). Because Yue et al.’s definition of disadvantaged students included belonging to a racial minority group, their findings suggest that supplemental instruction can reduce the academic achievement gap between minority students and their White counterparts.
Technological instructional interventions can also address the achievement gap. For instance, Lou and Jaeggi (2020) created a technology-assisted approach that can eliminate an achievement gap between students with low prior knowledge and students with high prior knowledge. The method of instructions uses technology to convey new information to students, such as multimedia-presentation and virtual reality. The intervention relies on a technique of prior knowledge activation, which proved especially beneficial for students with low prior knowledge (Lou & Jaeggi, 2020). The researchers concluded that that interventions using the latest technology can narrow the achievement gap between minority students and their White counterparts.
Teacher training is another crucial strategy which can lower the achievement gap in public schools. Teachers who know about a wide range of instruction methods can still fail to narrow the achievement gap if they do not know how to use those methods appropriately (Bo et al., 2018). Teachers need the ability to differentiate among reasons for insufficient academic achievement and use appropriate methods to improve students’ outcomes (Bowman et al., 2018). Some students have special needs because of acquired physical and mental conditions, which implies that teachers need special skills to help such students learn according to their level (Bowman et al., 2018).
Students can also require more attention and individualized treatment because of teacher–student cultural differences. Although some teachers have acknowledged the cultural differences of minority students, they have often lacked the knowledge needed to satisfy the special needs of these students (King, 2017). Without adequate training, teachers cannot account for the cultural differences of their students (Bowman et al., 2018).
Another problem that teacher training can solve is educator bias. Numerous researchers have found that teachers often have lower expectations of minority students (Gregory & Roberts, 2017). Teachers often believe that minority students cannot perform well, which deprives those students of the chance to improve (Bowman et al., 2018). Students internalize their teachers’ low expectations and start to believe that they cannot perform well, which leads to lower academic achievement (Brown et al., 2018).
Teachers may also discriminate based on gender, which has similar long-lasting negative effects on the academic achievement of students and widens the achievement gap (Muntoni & Retelsdorf, 2018). However, educators are often unaware of the presence of such biases (Bowman et al., 2018). By making teachers aware of their biases, improved teacher education can narrow the achievement gap.
Empirical evidence indicates that teacher training interventions can narrow the achievement gap and increase the overall academic achievement of students. For instance, Walk et al. (2018) evaluated a training program for preschool teachers and found that the carefully developed 28.5-hr training program positively impacted the academic achievement of students. Moreover, implementation of the program narrowed the achievement gap in the preschool students studied. Walk et al.’s findings indicate that even on-the-job training can improve academic achievement and narrow the achievement gap.
Numerous researchers have found that developing an inclusive classroom environment is crucial to the success of minority students. Kizilcec et al. (2017) stated that minority students may have psychological issues that prevent them from succeeding. In particular, they may fear mockery based on their background, which prevents them from actively participating in class (Kizilcec et al., 2017). One of the main ways to address this problem is to create an inclusive environment.
Dewsbury and Brame (2019) suggested that teachers need to develop deep self-awareness and empathy for minority students. Teachers then need to project this empathy to the classroom environment to develop within students feelings of belonging, competence, and interest in the course material (Dewsbury & Brame, 2019). Teachers should also effectively use local and national networks to maximize student learning and inclusion (Dewsbury & Brame, 2019). Dewsbury and Brame expected implementation of these strategies to narrow the achievement gap and improve relationships in class.
The environment of a classroom needs structure, which implies planning with predictable results. A teacher should write down clear expectations for the classroom environment and promote them to everybody in their classroom (Penner, 2018). Teachers should also consider using discussion to generate class norms appropriate for meeting the outlined expectations (Penner, 2018). Teachers should then always refer to these norms to ensure that students follow them (Penner, 2018). Another recommendation is the use of classroom affirmations of minority students (Kizilcec et al., 2017). School leaders should also consider hiring demographically diverse teachers to promote inclusion at a higher level (Wang et al., 2020). A teacher can translate an inclusive environment in their school into their classroom (Wang et al., 2020).
Curriculum change integrates all the strategies mentioned above and addresses the majority of the reasons for the achievement gap. Although though progressive educators started to build cultural identity in African American students, their efforts were not systematic, which led to inappropriate practices. For instance, teachers encouraged students to participate in mock slave auctions, play games in which some students acted like slaves and others like slave catchers, and make fun of slavery poems (King, 2017). The desire to teach African American history and develop cultural identity therefore requires regulation to prevent inappropriate practices.
Anderson (2016) promoted five central principles of curriculum change to address the problem of the underachievement of African American students. First, a curriculum should promote sound racial identity, which helps realize the strengths of cultural background. Second, the curriculum should help students to use critical consciousness and identify issues of inequity. Third, the curriculum should cultivate critical academic achievement because this helps link academic performance with navigation and transformation of society. Fourth, the curriculum should develop a sense of collective responsibility within students. Fifth, the curriculum should aid the teaching of activism and encourage the ability to initiate and sustain changes in society. Anderson argued that building a curriculum around these principles would ensure that African American students both thrive and transform the racist society around them.
Curriculum change requires alterations in the areas of history and language arts. Rainone (2020) claimed that history classes should include the history of African Americans beyond the contexts of the civil rights movement and slavery. In particular, history classes should convey the history of African Americans before their enslavement to foster appreciation of the depth of their cultural background (Rainone, 2020). The curriculum needs to aid understanding that current differences in perceptions of the world, behavior, and language are a result of a long developmental process no worse than that followed by White Americans (Johnson, 2018; Rainone, 2020).
Educators can provide the necessary cultural affirmation in literature classes by introducing complex African American characters to whom modern African American students can relate (Johnson, 2018). The curriculum should also acknowledge linguistic differences between African Americans and White American to ensure adequate evaluation of all students (Rainone, 2020).
Curriculum change needs a basis in solid theory. “Curriculum theory” is a term that refers to how a school’s leaders decide what students should learn. Beauchamp (1982) said that a theory is a set of constructs, definitions, and propositions that explain a phenomenon systematically. The primary constructs in a curriculum theory are the subjects that students should learn, the methods teachers should use to teach those subjects, and the assessment strategies used to evaluate the outcomes (Beauchamp, 1982). Curriculum change needs an adequate theoretical framework to guide the process of change and guide evaluation of the outcomes.
There are four central theoretical approaches to curriculum: academic, pragmatic, individualistic, and idealistic (Beauchamp, 1982). The pragmatic approach is perhaps the most appropriate for guiding curriculum change (Dahir, 2019). The primary advantage of this approach is that pragmatists want all students to achieve the desired competencies, just high-achieving students (Enache & Crisan, 2016). The pragmatic approach rests on the assumption that students gain the skills needed to succeed and change reality while they develop cultural competencies.
The significant education gap between African American students and their White counterparts has been a focus of heated discussion among policy makers, educators, and scholars. Numerous familial, social, economic, personal, and school-related factors affect the academic achievement of students. Although cultural background also has a significant effect on academic performance, some scholars have tried to attribute this effect to socioeconomic disadvantages associated with African American students. However, those making such claims have often been culturally incompetent and have tended to use quantitative methods.
Approaches that can help address the problem of the achievement gap include improving instruction, enhancing teacher training, building inclusive environments, and curriculum change. However, curriculum change seems to be the most appropriate approach for the purpose of the present study. Curriculum change should help African American students relate to the stories told in literature and history classes and enable them to transform society.
The purpose of this applied research study was to recommend to the administrators and teachers of Granby Elementary School possible solutions to the problem of low Virginia SOL scores of minority students at the school. The school under analysis was a small-scale educational entity in Norfolk County, Virginia, where almost 60% of the students at the school were African American (Granby Elementary School, n.d.). This section provides a detailed description of the procedures used to collect data for further analysis, including the procedures and questions for each of the three forms of data collected: interviews, focus groups, and surveys.
The first data collection method consisted of semistructured interviews of school authorities to gather insights into possible solutions to the problem of low SOL scores. The interview questions helped the researcher learn about the perceptions of stakeholders regarding the reasons for low SOL scores among minority students and strategies that could be employed to improve these scores. A total of five interviews were conducted to explore the issue from different angles.
The participants included teachers from every grade level in the school (Grades 1–4) and the school’s principal. Purposeful sampling was used to select information-rich participants, which is crucial for mixed methods research (Palinkas et al., 2015). Participants were selected based on their experience working with minority students, the length of their employment at Granby Elementary School, and the degree to which they were trusted by faculty.
Each interview followed the standard protocol of a semistructured interview described by Creswell (2012). All the interviews were conducted on the school campus, after classes, and each lasted approximately 1 hr. Each participant was asked 10 interview questions, and the provided answers were recorded and carefully transcribed for further analysis. Additional clarification questions were asked in the course of the interviews when needed. Thematic analysis was performed after the data were collected to identify valuable ideas. Interview transcript responses were coded based on related content. The frequencies of the codes were evaluated across all the interviews. These codes were then categorized into main themes.
To help answer the research question, each interview participant was asked 10 interview questions. All the questions derived from existing literature. The 10 questions were as follows:
- How do you think standardized test scores are helpful for measuring the achievements of elementary school students?
- Why are SOL test results important for Grandy Elementary and its students?
- Why do you think the achievement gap between minority students and their White counterparts exists in Granby Elementary?
- Which of the issues that created the achievement gap can be addressed by the faculty and administration of Granby Elementary?
- How do you think curriculum affects test scores of minority students?
- How do you think psychological factors affect SOL scores in Granby Elementary?
- How do you think discipline affects SOL scores in Granby Elementary?
- What strategies do you think are most effective for improving minority students’ SOL scores in Granby Elementary?
- How do you think the school can improve minority students’ SOL scores through instructional improvement?
- How do you think the school can improve minority students’ SOL scores through collective efficacy?
The purpose of Interview Question 1 was to aid understanding of the attitudes of teachers toward standardized tests as a measure of achievement. Williams (2005) noted that many teachers believe standardized tests do not measure academic achievement accurately because they promote studying for the test rather than studying for knowledge. The answers to this question helped to understand the level of bias with regard to standardized testing.
Interview Question 2 was meant to help the interviewees think about the importance of SOL test results for the school in general and for every individual student. This question was a utility question that helped interviewees take the research and the problem seriously. Interview Question 3 helped identify reasons for the existence of the achievement gap at Granby Elementary School. Numerous researchers have tried to determine the reasons for the gap in the academic achievements of students. Bowman et al. (2018) addressed the problem systematically by assessing several factors simultaneously.
Developmental differences, poverty, racism, curriculum, cultural differences, and insufficient teacher training emerged as causes of the achievement gap (Bowman et al., 2018). Those at the frontiers of curriculum development have also acknowledged that curricula have been predominantly White, implying that educators often overlook important history and literature (Johnson, 2018; King, 2017). In this study, the researcher expected the interviewees to name all these reasons. However, they could also have mentioned other reasons, which would add value to the research. Even if interviewees did not provide additional reasons, their insights would be crucial because they would help to establish the consistency of existing knowledge.
Interview Question 4 helped to narrow down the list of problems that were feasible to address. For instance, a student’s socioeconomic status often negatively impacts their academic achievement (Bowman et al., 2018). However, this problem was beyond the ability of the faculty and administrators of Granby Elementary School to address.
Interview Question 5 was the first of a series of questions that helped to focus on specific factors contributing to low SOL scores at Granby Elementary School. Dahir (2019) reported that African American students could not relate to stories told in history classes and writing studied during literature classes. This led to a loss of interest in studying, which eventually decreased academic performance (Dahir, 2019). This interview question was designed to gather the opinions of the participants concerning the influence of curriculum on the achievement gap between White and minority students.
Interview Question 6 continued the series of questions that helped to focus on the factors addressable using the school’s resources to improve SOL scores of minority students. Dixson et al. (2017) found that psychological factors—such as grit, growth mindset, ethnic identity, and other group orientation—had no significant effects on the academic achievement of students, which was inconsistent with the findings of others. This question helped to clarify this point.
Pearman et al. (2019) found a significant correlation between the achievement gap and discipline among minority students. Interview Question 7 aided understanding of whether discipline was a significant factor affecting SOL scores of minority students at Granby Elementary School.
Interview Question 8 helped to gather general information about possible strategies for solving the problem of low test scores of minority students at Granby Elementary School. Interview Question 9 helped interviewees focus more on the instructional practices that can be changed to improve the test scores of minority students. Bowman et al. (2018) stated that, aside from improving curriculum, perfection of instruction is the most effective way to close the achievement gap between minority students and their White counterparts.
The purpose of Interview Question 10 was to encourage interviewees to look closely at the problem of low collective efficacy at Granby Elementary School and find strategies to address it to improve the SOL scores of minority students. Goddard et al. (2017) concluded that the promotion of collective efficacy among teachers can help to close the achievement gap; however, these researchers offered no specific strategies for improving collective efficacy.
Focus Group Procedures
The second method of data collection consisted of a focus group discussion of strategies that could improve SOL scores at Granby Elementary School. A focus group with eight participants was conducted. The focus group was structured as a discussion of strategies in general followed by concentration on different grade levels. Purposeful sampling was used to include eight most experienced teachers of specific grades in corresponding focus groups. The focus group discussion was conducted on the school campus; 90 min was allocated for the discussion. The audio was recorded and then transcribed immediately afterward. All participants were informed about the ongoing recording, and they provided informed consent. The transcript was coded. The frequencies of the codes were evaluated, and the codes were arranged into themes.
Before the start of the focus group session, all participants were informed of the purpose of the focus group, and they had access to a printed list of questions so that they could get an idea of the spectrum of discussion. The researcher, which will act as a group moderator was in charge of generating as many ideas as possible and helping the participants move from one question to another.
Focus Group Questions
This section lists and discusses the questions for the focus group. All questions derived from existing literature. The 10 focus group questions were as follows:
- What is the attitude of teachers in Granby Elementary toward standardized tests?
- How do you think ethnicity affects the academic achievements of students in Granby Elementary?
- Why do test results of minority students need to be improved?
- What do you think are the major reasons for the achievement gap between minority students and their White counterparts in Granby Elementary?
- Which of the listed factors have the most significant effect on all grade level students in Granby Elementary?
- What are the strategies for improving the SOL test scores among minority students in Granby Elementary?
- Which of the strategies discussed today are most appropriate for improving SOL test scores of students from grade levels three through five in Granby Elementary?
- How can instructions be improved in all the grade levels of Granby elementary to improve minority students’ test scores?
- How can the curriculum be modified for each grade level to improve the test results of minority students?
- What can the school do to increase parental involvement for minority students?
Focus Group Question 1 aided understanding of whether the teachers believed that standardized testing is a proper measure of achievement of students. Teachers may believe that improving student achievement and improving standardized test scores are weakly correlated because students are forced to study for tests instead of learning material (Williams, 2005). The purpose of this question was to establish a baseline for further discussion.
Focus Group Question 2 helped determine how focus group participants felt about ethnicity affecting academic achievement. Some teachers may believe that other factors, such as socioeconomic status, are the reason minority students underperform in school (Liu et al., 2020). Group participants may therefore have believed that it would be improper to discuss strategies for improving the SOL scores of minority students.
Focus Group Question 3 encouraged participants to consider the benefits of improving test scores for different stakeholders. The group moderator helped the participants touch on benefits for students, teachers, school administrators, and the community. The researcher expected the responses to motivate the participants to become involved in later discussion.
With regard to Focus Group Question 4, Bowman et al. (2018) described at least four major factors that affect the academic achievement of minority students, including curriculum, cultural differences, poverty, and racism. This question invited participants to offer other factors that may affect the academic achievement of minority students.
The aim of Focus Group Question 5 was to narrow down the problem to a specific grade level (each focus group discussed a different grade level). The preferred outcome of this question was a list of reasons that have the most effect for each grade level. With regard to Focus Group Question 6, Oakes et al. (2017) claimed that some of the most effective strategies for improving academic achievement among elementary school students are promotion of integrated student support, expansion of learning time and opportunities, family and community engagement, and collaboration and effective leadership practices. The participants received an opportunity to discuss these four strategies in more detail.
Focus Group Question 7 helped participants focus on their specific grade level and single out the most appropriate methods for addressing the problem of low academic achievement of minority students at that level. Focus Group Question 8 further narrowed down the topic to aid understanding of how instruction can address the problem. Shamir et al. (2019) claimed that modifying instruction can improve the academic achievements of students. However, different schools may have different problems, which means that there are no universal methods. This question helped the participants provide school- and grade-specific recommendations.
Focus Group Question 9 helped participants focus on changes in curriculum implementable at Granby Elementary School. King (2017) stated that curriculum may be the central issue for minority students because they have been unable to relate to the stories they have been reading and studying. However, only limited curricular changes are possible at the level of a single school. The focus group helped to single out the alternatives with the aid of this question. Oakes et al. (2017) provided significant evidence that parental involvement has a positive impact on student achievement. Focus Group Question 10 was designed to help identify strategies for increasing parental involvement, which could potentially improve SOL scores of minority students at Granby Elementary School.
The third and final method of data collection was a survey made up of 14 questions: four demographic questions and 10 content questions. The survey was conducted using SurveyMonkey because this service provided basic statistical analysis and its use did not require much experience. A purposeful sample of 25 teachers from Granby Elementary School were invited to complete the survey. The invitations were sent via email with a link to the survey questions.
The email also included a brief description of the study, including its purpose and methods. Potential participants were invited to sign an online consent form. Purposeful sampling was used because it helped the researcher make generalizations based on a relatively small sample (Etikan & Bala, 2017). The survey data were analyzed using frequencies of responses and measures of central tendency to provide insight into participant experiences. Moreover, inferential statistics such as regression analysis, correlation analysis, and t tests were used.
- What category best describes you in terms of age?
- 21–29 years;
- 30–39 years;
- 40–49 years;
- 50–59 years;
- 60 years or older.
- What is your biological gender?
- What is your race?
- African American;
- What is your highest degree?
- Bachelor’s degree;
- Master’s degree;
- Specialist degree;
- PhD/MD/other professional degree;
- In general, how do you think your students in Granby Elementary perform in terms of academic achievement?
|Significantly below average||Below average||Average||Above average||Significantly above average|
- How do you think minority students in Granby Elementary perform in terms of academic achievement?
|Significantly below average||Below average||Average||Above average||Significantly above average|
- Please state how much you agree with the following statement: “I believe that academic underachievement of minority students in Granby Elementary is a significant problem that should be addressed in the near future.”
|Disagree||More disagree than agree||Not sure||More agree than disagree||Agree|
- Please state how much you agree with the following statement: “I believe that instruction practices in Granby Elementary are of the highest quality.”
|Disagree||More disagree than agree||Not sure||More agree than disagree||Agree|
- What is the effect of curriculum on the academic achievement of minority students in Granby Elementary?
|Negative||More negative than positive||Neither negative nor positive||More positive than negative||Positive|
- What is the effect of parental involvement on the academic achievement of minority students in Granby Elementary?
|Negative||More negative than positive||Neither negative nor positive||More positive than negative||Positive|
- In general, how involved are parents in the academic lives of their children in Granby Elementary?
|Not involved||Hardly involved||Not sure||Involved||Highly involved|
- How involved are parents of minority students in the academic lives of their children in Granby Elementary?
|Negative||More negative than positive||Neither negative nor positive||More positive than negative||Positive|
- Do you like working in Granby Elementary?
|No||More no than yes||Not sure||More yes than no||Yes|
- Please state how much you agree with the following statement: “Racism is a significant problem at Granby Elementary.”
|Strongly disagree||Disagree||Neutral||Agree||Strongly agree|
Survey Content Question 1 was designed to establish a baseline for further inferential analysis. In particular, it helped with comparison of the perceived academic achievement of all students with the perceived academic achievement of minority students. Survey Content Question 2 was closely connected to Survey Content Question 1, and it aided comparison of the overall perceived performance of students at Granby Elementary School with the perceived performance of minority students. Ratcliff et al. (2017) stated that teachers’ awareness of an existing problem can modify the academic achievement of students.
Survey Content Question 3 was designed to aid understanding of the attitudes of teachers toward the problem of low academic achievement of student at Granby Elementary School. Ratcliff et al. (2017) stated that attitudes and behaviors of teachers have a significant impact on the academic achievement of students. Survey Content Question 4 helped the researcher to examine the level of instructional practices at Granby Elementary School. According to Bowman et al. (2018), instruction is key to improving the academic performance of minority students.
Survey Content Question 5 was designed to measure the effect of curriculum on the academic achievement of minority students. King (2017) claimed that inadequate curriculum is key to low academic performance of minority students. The purpose of Survey Content Question 6 was to measure the perceived benefits of parental involvement in the education of minority students. Oakes et al. (2017) claimed that parental involvement can improve the academic achievement of students.
Survey Content Question 7 was designed to measure the parental involvement of all students at Granby Elementary School and then compare this with the parental involvement of minority students. Survey Content Question 8 measured parental involvement of minority students at the school for comparison with overall parental involvement.
Survey Content Question 9 was designed to measure the level of teacher satisfaction, an important predictor of level of instruction and academic achievement (Oakes et al., 2017). Survey Content Question 10 was meant to measure the level of racism in the school. Bowman et al. (2018) claimed that racism is one of the central reasons for underachievement of minority students.
Allen, S. (2008). Eradicating the achievement gap: History, education, and reformation. Black History Bulletin, 71(1), 13–17. Web.
Anderson, M. B. (2016). Building better narratives in black education. Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute, UNCF. Web.
Assari, S., Mardani, A., Maleki, M., Boyce, S., & Bazargan, M. (2021). Black–White achievement gap: Role of race, school urbanity, and parental education. Pediatric Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, 12(N), 1-11. Web.
Atlay, C., Tieben, N., Hillmert, S., & Fauth, B. (2019). Instructional quality and achievement inequality: How effective is teaching in closing the social achievement gap? Learning and Instruction, 63, Article 101211. Web.
Beauchamp, G. A. (1982). Curriculum theory: Meaning, development, and use. Theory Into Practice, 21(1), 23–27. Web.
Bowman, B. T., Comer, J. P., & Johns, D. J. (2018). Addressing the African American achievement gap: Three leading educators issue a call to action. YC Young Children, 73(2), 14–23. Web.
Carpenter, D. M., Ramirez, A., & Severn, L. (2006). Gap or gaps: Challenging the singular definition of the achievement gap. Education and Urban Society, 39(1), 113–127. Web.
Castejón, J. L., Gilar, R., Veas, A., & Miñano, P. (2016). Differences in learning strategies, goal orientations, and self-concept between overachieving, normal achieving, and underachieving secondary students. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, Article 1438. Web.
Chew, B. (2018). Academic success factors in K–12 education: A quantitative analysis [Doctorate Dissertation, University of California]. Web.
Childs, D. (2017). African American education and social studies: Teaching the history of African American education within a critical pedagogy framework. Ohio Social Studies Review, 54(1), 44-50. Web.
Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Pearson.
Dahir, M. (2019). Between cultural literacy and cultural relevance: A culturally pragmatic approach to reducing the Black–White achievement gap. In Dahir, M. (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research in cultural studies and education (pp. 1–19). Springer.
Dewsbury, B., & Brame, C. J. (2019). Inclusive teaching. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 18(2), Article fe2. Web.
Dixson, D. D., Roberson, C. C., & Worrell, F. C. (2017). Psychosocial keys to African American achievement? Examining the relationship between achievement and psychosocial variables in high achieving African Americans. Journal of Advanced Academics, 28(2), 120–140. Web.
Enache, R., & Crisan, A. (2016). Pragmatism and curriculum. Journal of Educational Sciences and Psychology, 6(1b), 11–14.
Etikan, I., & Bala, K. (2017). Sampling and sampling methods. Biometrics & Biostatistics International Journal, 5(6), Article 00149. Web.
Gilar, R., Veas, A., Miñano, P., & Castejón, J. L. (2019). Differences in personal, familial, social, and school factors between underachieving and non-underachieving gifted secondary students. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2367–2377. Web.
Goddard, R. D., Skrla, L., & Salloum, S. J. (2017). The role of collective efficacy in closing student achievement gaps: A mixed methods study of school leadership for excellence and equity. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 22(4), 220–236. Web.
Gopalan, M., & Nelson, A. A. (2019). Understanding the racial discipline gap in schools. Aera Open, 5(2). Web.
Granby Elementary School. (n.d.). School history. Web.
Gray, L. A. (2019). Standardized testing. In Educational trauma (pp. 109–118). Palgrave Macmillan.
Gregory, A., & Roberts, G. (2017). Teacher beliefs and the overrepresentation of Black students in classroom discipline. Theory Into Practice, 56(3), 187–194. Web.
He, W., Holton, A. J., & Farkas, G. (2018). Impact of partially flipped instruction on immediate and subsequent course performance in a large undergraduate chemistry course. Computers & Education, 125, 120–131. Web.
Herman, J. L., & Golan, S. (1993). The effects of standardized testing on teaching and schools. Educational Measurement: Issues and practice, 12(4), 20–25. Web.
Hill, C. (2020). Exploring Alaska Native & African American parent perspectives: The educational achievement gap [Doctoral dissertation, Creighton University]. DSpace. Web.
Johnson, A. M. (2018). Scholastic liberation: Schools’ impact on African American academic achievement. Language Arts Journal of Michigan, 34(1), 8. Web.
Jordt, H., Eddy, S. L., Brazil, R., Lau, I., Mann, C., Brownell, S. E., Author, X. X., & Freeman, S. (2017). Values affirmation intervention reduces achievement gap between underrepresented minority and white students in introductory biology classes. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 16(3). Web.
Kieran, L., & Anderson, C. (2019). Connecting universal design for learning with culturally responsive teaching. Education and Urban Society, 51(9), 1202–1216. Web.
King, L. J. (2017). The status of Black history in US schools and society. Social Education, 81(1), 14–18. Web.
Kizilcec, R. F., Saltarelli, A. J., Reich, J., & Cohen, G. L. (2017). Closing global achievement gaps in MOOCs. Science, 355(6322), 251–252. Web.
Kumar, R., Zusho, A., & Bondie, R. (2018). Weaving cultural relevance and achievement motivation into inclusive classroom cultures. Educational Psychologist, 53(2), 78–96. Web.
Lindholm-Leary, K., & Borsato, G. (2006). Academic achievement. In F. Genesee, K. Lindholm-Leary, W. Saunders, & D. Christian (Eds.), Educating English language learners: A synthesis of research evidence (pp. 176–222). Cambridge University Press.
Liu, J., Peng, P., & Luo, L. (2020). The relation between family socioeconomic status and academic achievement in China: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 32(1), 49–76. Web.
Lou, A. J., & Jaeggi, S. M. (2020). Reducing the prior‐knowledge achievement gap by using technology‐assisted guided learning in an undergraduate chemistry course. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 57(3), 368–392. Web.
Lteef, L. (2019). Assessment and continuous improvement of student learning. Research Gate. Web.
Lynch, M. (2019). Types of classroom interventions. The Ed Advocate. Web.
Marchant, G. J. (2004). What is at stake with high stakes testing? A discussion of issues and research. The Ohio Journal of Science, 104(2), 2–7. Web.
Miller-Cotto, D., & Byrnes, J. P. (2016). Ethnic/racial identity and academic achievement: A meta-analytic review. Developmental Review, 41(N), 51–70. Web.
Muntoni, F., & Retelsdorf, J. (2018). Gender-specific teacher expectations in reading—The role of teachers’ gender stereotypes. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 54(N), 212–220. Web.
Oakes, J., Maier, A., & Daniel, J. (2017). Community schools: An evidence-based strategy for equitable school improvement. National Education Policy Center. Web.
Palinkas, L. A., Horwitz, S. M., Green, C. A., Wisdom, J. P., Duan, N., & Hoagwood, K. (2015). Purposeful sampling for qualitative data collection and analysis in mixed method implementation research. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 42(5), 533–544. Web.
Pearman, F. A., Curran, F. C., Fisher, B., & Gardella, J. (2019). Are achievement gaps related to discipline gaps? Evidence from national data. Aera Open, 5(4), 1–18. Web.
Penner, M. R. (2018). Building an inclusive classroom. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 16(3), Article A268. Web.
Pietromonaco, C. (2021). The effects of standardized testing on students. Academic Festival Event, 22(N). Web.
Preckel, F., & Brunner, M. (2016). Academic self-concept, achievement goals, and achievement: Is their relation the same for academic achievers and underachievers? Gifted and Talented International, 30(N), 68–84. Web.
Rainone, C. (2020). ‘The humanity of Blackness’ missing from history classes: How to transform Black history education in schools. NBC Philadelphia. Web.
RAND. (n.d.). Minority students. Web.
Rapposelli, M. (2021). The impact of standardized testing. Kutztown University. Web.
Ratcliff, N. J., Carroll, K. L., Jones, C. R., Costner, R. H., Sheehan, H. C., & Hunt, G. H. (2017). Behaviors of teachers and their students in schools with and without an achievement gap: An observational study. Teacher Educators’ Journal, 10, 118–141. Web.
School Digger. (2021). Granby Elementary. Web.
Setren, E., Greenberg, K., Moore, O., & Yankovich, M. (2021). Effects of flipped classroom instruction: Evidence from a randomized trial. Education Finance and Policy, 16(3), 363–387. Web.
Shamir, H., Pocklington, D., Feehan, K., & Yoder, E. (2019). Bridging the achievement gap for low-performing students using computer-adaptive instruction. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 9(3). Web.
Virginia Department of Education. (2020a). Granby Elementary. Web.
Virginia Department of Education. (2020b). SOL test results. Web.
Walk, L. M., Evers, W. F., Quante, S., & Hille, K. (2018). Evaluation of a teacher training program to enhance executive functions in preschool children. PloS One, 13(5). Web.
Wang, C., Fan, X., & Pugalee, D. (2020). Impacts of school racial composition on the mathematics and reading achievement gap in post unitary Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. Education and Urban Society, 52(7), 1112–1132. Web.
Williams, B. T. (2005). Standardized students: The problems with writing for tests instead of people. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 49(2), 152–158. Web.
Yue, H., Rico, R. S., Vang, M. K., & Giuffrida, T. A. (2018). Supplemental instruction: Helping disadvantaged students reduce performance gap. Journal of Developmental Education, 41(2), 18–25. Web.
Appendix A: Permission Letter
Dear [Researcher’s Name]:
After careful review of your research proposal entitled “Recommendations for Improving SOL Scores of Minority Students in Granby Elementary School in Virginia”, we have decided to grant you permission to conduct my research at Granby Elementary School in Norfolk County, VA.
Check the following boxes, as applicable:
- We will provide our membership list to [your name], and [your name] may use the list to contact our members to invite them to participate in her research study.
- We grant permission for [your name] to contact teachers and other staff members to invite them to participate in her research study.
- We will not provide potential participant information to [your name], but we agree to provide her study information to teachers and other staff members on her behalf.
- We are requesting a copy of the results upon study completion and/or publication.