How popular culture can help bridge the achievement gap
Links to Fileshttp://library.towson.edu/digital/collection/etd/id/68801
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Workapplication/pdf
iii, 98 pages
ProgramTowson University. Global Humanities Program
[From Chapter 1] The American education system has innumerable problems: safety, standards, class size, infrastructure, teacher retention, and student retention are just a few. Floating betwixt and between these problems is the multi-faceted obstacle called the achievement gap. First recognized in 1966, the achievement gap generally refers to the educational disparity between white and/or privileged student populations and minority and/or underserved student populations. This disparity can be evident in education resources, student performance, or both. This disparity can occur in K-12 education, higher education, or both. Unfortunately, data tells us that in the last half century the U.S. has not made much progress in eliminating the achievement gap. According to the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis, although the gaps have narrowed since the 1970s, “the gaps are still very large, ranging from 0.5 to 0.9 standard deviations.” These gaps are further complicated because they are linked to several causes: socioeconomic disparity, early childhood education quality, public school quality, segregation, and public policies. Perhaps the best course of action moving forward, then, is to forge a bridge over it. Across the board, research suggests that honing students’ critical thinking skills will improve their performance. However, many students—even those who have been accepted into college—lack the proficiencies and, frankly, the interest to access the sophisticated texts that are traditionally used to foster critical thinking: Beloved, The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, One Hundred Years of Solitude, to name a few. A first step, then, has to be finding a middle ground: content that is challenging enough to advance critical thinking but not out of students’ reach. Popular culture, the themes in which overwhelmingly overlap with traditional college-level texts, can be that middle ground. To this end, college curricula should embrace the popular culture that nontraditional learners are comfortable with and already enjoy to create a bridge between students’ knowledge and advanced texts.