L. Scott Miller
Compared to Whites and Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are severely underrepresented among top students in the United States at all levels of the educational system. This longstanding pattern is documented by virtually every traditional measure of academic achievement, including GPA, class rank, and standardized test scores. Moreover, all social class segments of these groups are underrepresented among the nation’s top students. For example, this is the case for students from these groups who have parents who have not completed high school and for students with parents who have graduate and professional degrees. Over the years, relatively little attention has been given to increasing the number of top Black, Hispanic, and Native American students, which helps explain why there are very few strategies at any level of the educational system with strong empirical evidence that they can increase the number of high achieving students from these groups on a widespread basis. If there is to be sustained progress in this area, it probably will be necessary to give considerable priority over the next 10-20 years (and beyond) to the design, testing, and rigorous evaluation of strategies that are explicitly concerned with increasing the number of top students from these groups. To pursue this agenda effectively, it is recommended that several new entities be created that would each specialize in one or two important aspects of the high achievement challenge. For example, an entity should be created that would be concerned with developing model preschool and parent education programs that could improve the school readiness of middle and high SES youngsters from underrepresented groups, while another entity should be created that would specialize in evaluating programs and strategies at the higher education level that serve underrepresented minority students to determine if they help increase the number of top students from these groups in higher education. It also is recommended that these entities be mainly new nonprofit organizations or university-based centers, in order to ensure that they have the freedom and independence to maintain their specialized agendas over time.
Promoting Sustained Growth in the Representation of African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans Among Top Students in the United States at All Levels of the Education System
L. Scott Miller
- Compared to White and Asian Americans; African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are severely underrepresented among top students in the U.S. at all levels of the educational system. If there is to be substantial progress in this area, it will be necessary to give considerable priority to the design, testing, and rigorous evaluation of strategies that are explicitly concerned with increasing the number of top students from these groups.
- One of the most promising ways to inform the development of effective strategies for increasing the percentage of top students is to study what the most successful groups are doing to support high achievement, with emphasis on their efforts from infancy through the primary grades.
- Increasing the percentage of Black, Hispanic, and Native American students with high achievement will take a long-term commitment by educators, policy-makers, and founders; and specialized entities should be formed so that the priorities remain clear and efforts are not diluted.
- Recommend creation of an early childhood and parent-education working group to develop model preschool and parent education programs that should be tested with middle class and high SES underrepresented minority students.
- Establish benchmark curricular opportunities for high achievers in affluent suburban and private elementary and secondary schools.
- Promote higher levels of underrepresented minority student achievement in AP courses and on AP exams.
- Promote high-achievement-oriented dissertation topics for doctoral candidates in education and education-related elements of the social sciences.
- Disseminate information regarding what is being learned about the extent and nature of the high achievement and within class issues, and the development of effective strategies for addressing them.