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Examples and Samples

Test Score Gap in Math

Stage 1: Introduction: Issue
The gap between black and white test score is a robust empirical regularity (Fryer & Levitt, 2004). This gap remains almost constant even after experiments are conducted under controlled variables that include neighborhood characteristics, quality of schools, socioeconomic status and family structure. Therefore, comprehending the key underlying causes of this gap in test score, especially in math is of great importance. This will lead towards formulation of strategies and measures, which are aimed at ensuring that the gap decreases and African Americans will have improved and better scores in math. Math is an essential subject, which influences each and everything that individuals interact with in the modern life.
The topic is unique to the district since there has been an education trend of poor performance in math subject. However, it is not clear whether technology based issues that include globalization and social and cultural issues impact schooling abilities or teaching methodologies adopted by teachers in various schools. Hence, focusing on key causes for a decrease in math test score will facilitate in policy formulate and advocacy for the education sector, which is aimed at ensuring the performance level of the math subject improves significantly.
According to a study conducted by Coleman et al. (1966) on ethnic differences and how they influence academic performance among children in different schooling stages, it was established that blacks and whites have different academic achievements. These differences are noted in all the stages of grade level and they increase as the student age increases. Since then, much effort has been directed towards comprehension of the variables that account for the gap and why such gap has been increasing. Brooks-Gunn et al. (2000) conducted a study, which led to the attainment of several factors. These were poverty effects and socioeconomic factors, which influenced racial differences in the area of academic performance. However, despite the control of these factors as they emerged, a gap still existed in terms of academic performance of blacks and whites. The gap is also characterized of enlarging with time. According to Cameiro & Heckman (2002), the gap between whites and blacks in test scores emerges prior to the entry of children in kindergarten and tends to increase as one advance in higher levels of education. Further, there has not been any successful solution offered on how to reduce this gap.
The question that needs to be answered is what is the key cause of the decreased standardized test scores in math for African Americans?
Stage 2: Data Collection
In section two directions, I focused on the type of data that I need in this research. This resulted in the selection of the three processes to be used in data collection. These are analysis of test scores public data as it is provided in the Virginia government statistics. The key area of focus is Newport News Public School. The other method will involve structuring both open ended and close ended questions, which will be used in a questionnaire. The questionnaire will be presented to sample populations of teachers, parents and students and other stakeholders. Selection of questionnaire is based on the need for current information on views and perspectives on the imminent issue of reduced test scores in math. The final method will entail moving around the school compound to record behavioral practices of students. This will be followed by 10 interviews of 3 math teachers and the other 7 on African American students on different grades. After selection of these three methods, instruments were then designed to ensure that data gathering and information documentation occur effectively during the study. Ideas and designed instruments for data gathering were then presented to colleagues who provided a positive feedback on the study being able to attain its key objectives and aim. However, there were some few modifications done on questions to ensure that they were able to elicit a response from the participants. The IRB Ethics Review form was then obtained, signed and submitted to the course instructor.
The first instrument is the observation note that answers the following questions:
1. What type of learning behavior is exhibited in this school?
2. How do students relate with their teachers?
3. How is learning conducted in the school?
4. Are there effective relationships between teachers and students?
5. What are the general views of African American students in math?
6. Do the whites and black students interact effectively in the school?
The document instrument will be based on secondary data analysis. The document will have the obtained data and analysis of the same by making comparisons and arguments why such data is obtained in the study population. Such data will be obtained from secondary sources and used to analyze the prevailing academic trend of blacks’ test scores in math. According to Shalash (2012), black students in Virginia had the lowest pass rate of 45 percent compared to white students by 68 percent, Asian students with 82 percent, and Hispanic students with 52 percent. Daniel Curry-Corcoran the accountability executive director in Newport News Public Schools claims that the trend of black student math performance has been declining over time. Presently, the results are worse than the previous years. The same case is obtained in test scores that are used. Test scores data will be obtained from the Virginia Department of Education report card in Newport News City Public Schools from this link (https://p1pe.doe.virginia.gov/reportcard/report.do?division=117).
The third instrument is the questionnaire that will be used in the process of data gathering from the selected population of study. Sample questionnaire to be used is:
1. Sex: I am a:
Male——–1 ( )
Female——-2 ( )
2. What is the highest education level you have completed?
1 year secondary—————1( )
2 years secondary—————2( )
3 years secondary—————3( )
4 years secondary—————4 ( )
other——————————-6 ( )
Please specify______________________
3. State your favorite subject and least favorite
Favorite———
Least favorite ——–
4. How do you (did perform) in math?
Better————-01( )
Good—-02( )
Average—-03( )
Poor ———–04( )
Very poor————05( )
Other——————-15( )
Please specify____________
5. What is your age? __ __ years.

6. How many times have you been sick (i.e., cold, flu etc.) while at school?
None————————0( )
Once————————1( )
Twice———————–2( )
Three times—————–3( )
Four times——————4( )
Five times——————5( )
Six or more times———–6( )
7. What meal plan do you use?
No meal plan————-1( )
5 meal plan————–2( )
10 meal plan————-3( )
12 meal plan————-4( )
14 meal plan————-5( )
19 meal plan————-6( )
8. What was your average in high school? __ __ %

9. What is the highest level of education completed by your parents?
                            Father      Mother
Elementary———-1( )——1( )
Grades 7 to 9——-2( )——2( )
High School———3( )——3( )
Trade School——–4( )——4( )
Diploma————-5( )——5( )
University———-6( )——6( )
Other—————7( )——7( ) Please specify_________
10. What is (or was) occupation of your father? (e.g., foreman for CNR).
Job Position_________________________________________________
Brief Job Description________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
11. What is (or was) occupation of your mother? (e.g., Registered Nurse)
Job Position_________________________________________________
Brief Job Description________________________________________
____________________________________________________________
12. Where do you live at Virginia
On Campus——–1( )
Off Campus——-2( )
* If living off campus go directly to Question 13
13. What is your residence?
Lane————-01( ) Fraser———08( )
Mt. St. Bernard–02( ) MacNeil——–09( )
T.N.T.———–03( ) MacDonald——10( )
Chillis———-04( ) MacPherson—–11( )
Plessis———-05( ) Mockler——–12( )
MacIsaac———06( ) Coady Inst—–13( )
Burke————07( )
14. Where do you do your studies while you are in school?
Library—————-1( )
Your own room———-2( )
Other——————3( ) Please specify_____________
Please circle a number as an indication of your rating on the following:
15. I like little disturbance while I study.
Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Strongly Agree
16. When people are in my room I study well.
Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Strongly Agree
17. My room is quiet.
Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Strongly Agree
18. What comes first is my school work
Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Strongly Agree
 
Observation indicator and criteria to note actions and practices will involve first a focus on the learning behavior. This will be observed for all stages of schooling where in each stage at least a day will be spend interacting with the students and teachers in order to obtain more insightful information. Such observation will occur in the school compound of the selected school for this study. This will involve an investigation of how learning is conducted in each of these stages of schooling. Three days will be spent observing the relationship that exists between teachers and students. Such relationships investigation will focus on identifying any differences on how the white and black children relate with their teachers. This will be followed by four days observation and collection of data from students on their general views and perception towards math. This observation will be done among all the students irrespective of them being whites or blacks. Finally, two days will be spent observing the interaction level between the whites and blacks while in school. This will include interactions while in a classroom setting, as well as interactions while outside. The attitude and attention that African American students offer in their classes will also be observed during this time.
Key open ended questions for the interview include:
1) Which are the challenges that are faced by African American students in learning math?
2) What do you think has being the contributing factor towards the reduction of the African American test scores in math?
3) What should be the solution towards the issue of test scores gap between the whites and blacks?
4) What are the common reactions and behavioral attitudes of students towards math?
5) Which are the resources that you think can be added in the education sector in order to facilitate in improvement in test scores of African American students?
Documentation of the interview information will involve listing responses of the respondents under each of the interview questions. These responses will then be analyzed through the thematic technique, which enables categorization of responses based on the commonality of the responses. Thus, similar responses will be grouped together and relationships attained from the responses analyzed and illustrated in an effective manner. These interviews will take place in the selected school. As such, the school administration will be informed of the study to take place and a consent agreement signed. This will ensure that the study is able to obtain a room where it will be based for effective data collection.

References

Brooks-Gunn, J., and G. J. Duncan. (2000). Family Poverty, Welfare Reform and Child Development.
Child Development, 71:1, 188–196.
Carneiro, P., and J. Heckman. (2002). Human Capital Policy. University of Chicago working paper. 1 (1).
Coleman, J., E. Campbell, C. Hobson, J. McPartland, A. Mood, F. D. Weinfeld, and P. York. (1966).
Equality of Educational Opportunity. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Fryer, R, & Levitt, S. (2004). Understanding the black-white test score gap in the first two years of school.
The review of economics and statistics, Vol, 34, No. 2.
Shalash, S. (2012). Virginia adopts new method to measure students, drops AYP. Retrieved on 11
November 2013 from: http://articles.dailypress.com/2012-08-01/news/dp-nws-state-achievement-goals-20120801_1_white-students-black-students-asian-students

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