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The failure of our public school system to adequately address and substantially reduce the academic achievement gap between Black non-mainstream students and their White counter-parts is deplorable..This is due, to a great degree, to the educational system's inability to effectively bridge the cultural difference which exists between Black non-mainstream and White cultures..When teachers are educated to their students' cultural styles and world views, they are more prepared to develop the kinds of learning opportunities that will engage and motivate their students toward mastering challenging educational materials and goals (Billings, Gloria Ladson)..Educators must commit to becoming more culturally knowledgeable and aware of the culturally experiences of the African American and the life experiences of their African American students..
Failure to learn to communicate, read and comprehend Standard American English (SAE), at levels proportionate with the demands of the information age, is a formula for immediate education failure and long-term social and economic marginalization..Millions of Chinese citizens are learning English..While China thrives to become the largest economy in the world, its people are learning English by the millions..They learn English hoping to attend foreign universities, including those in the United States, in order to apply the knowledge attained towards becoming entrepreneurs in China ..China has over 100 billionaires, second only to the United States..
Our under-educated, Black inner-city, non-mainstream, disadvantaged student population must effectively learn to read and comprehend Standard American English (SAE), to successfully compete, not only in America's economy, but globally, as well..We must begin to view and further research language programs developed for African American speakers of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), or Ebonics by Black and other concerned social scientists to effectively bridge from AAVE or Ebonics, to SAE...A careful review of the literature covering the past forty years was conducted by the "Research Institute of Educational Problems," Cambridge, Mass; (Budoff, M; 2002), on reading interventions for black, culturally-different students (sometimes referred to as disadvantaged, inner-city, etc,)..
The search focused on interventions designed for Black, culturally-different students at the middle and high school levels..Studies were sought that were experimental or quasi-experimental with good comparison groups, a sufficiently large number of subjects, and conducted on more than one school and in more than one city..While there were claims of small but statistically significant tests score gains on the part of at-risk students, only one study appeared to fit the above-mentioned criteria, "Houghton Mifflin, 1975." This study, Bridge Cross-Cultural Reading Program Field Test Report (Houghton Mifflin, 1975), incorporated an experimental design as well as formative evaluation which was conducted to assess the teachers' and the students' responses to the program..Bridge is a sophisticated intervention program designed to teach Black, culturally-different, non-mainstream students reading skills by starting them in their familiar dialect..
The reading program is based on a synthesis of research from linguistics, learning theory, and communications theory..The program was designed to boost the students' "sense of control of the environment in the classroom..The 1966 Coleman Report defines sense of control in the following manner..
For children from disadvantaged groups, achievement or lack of achievement appears closely related to what they believe about their environment: whether they believe the environment will respond to reasonable efforts, or whether they believe it is merely random or immovable..Children from disadvantaged groups assume that nothing they do can affect the environment, it will give benefits or withhold them, but not as a consequence of their own actions (Coleman, 1966)..The most critical educational problem confronting educators, researchers, and policymakers today, is how to break the vicious cycle of the cumulative deficit; how to close the Black-White test score gap..This study has the potential for providing schools with an effective theory-based model for interpretation, providing teachers with effective methods for improving the Standard English reading skills of functionally illiterate, unmotivated, culturally-different students at the middle and high school levels as demonstrated by standardized achievement test scores..
The Bridge Reading Program also has the potential of providing the schools with a means of increasing the students' motivational levels and changing their attitude toward reading..It has been apparent for sometime that Black, culturally-different children are not achieving successfully in this country's public school systems..It is well documented in the literature that, as Black children proceed through school, they fall behind the national average at all grade levels on academic measurements..The longer they remain in school, the further behind the national average they fall!!
The current trend in public education that calls for accountability for educational outcomes and setting national standards based on what all students are expected to learn (measured by standardized tests) makes the Bridge Research more relevant today than ever..Teachers throughout this country, in predominantly minority schools. are faced with the task of educating Black, culturally-different, non-mainstream students who tend to be disinterested, unmotivated, bored, any often hostile toward the academic activities of the schools..When faced with low achievement test scores on the part of the students, administrators and teachers tend to blame the students, the parents and the Black community for the schools' inability to motivate and teach these students..The schools continue with "business as usual," while Black students fall behind national norms on all academic measures at all grade levels!!
The Bridge Reading Program clearly showed that, for four months of instruction at each grade level (7-12), the experimental group had a mean gain in excess of the normative level..The experimental group displayed a mean gain in grade equivalency scores of 6.2 months for 4 months of instruction..The control group displayed a mean gain of 1.6 months for 4 months of instruction..The results of the Teacher Questionnaire (formative evaluation), indicated that the students found the Bridge Program highly enjoyable and easy to follow and understand..Teachers consistently reported that the behavior management section of the program was extremely effective in keeping students on task and they experienced fewer discipline problems in the classroom..The Bridge Reading Program was not allowed to be released to the public school districts because of its use of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), even though the students started the program in AAVE and finished in Standard American English (SAE)..The Bridge Reading Program was designed by Dr. Gary Simpkins, an African American Harvard graduate.."Between the Rhetoric and Reality"; Lauriat Press;Simpkins&Simpkins, 2009:Amazon.com..