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Cultural-ecological theory is based on the premise that minorities’ academic achievement is linked to their ethnicity and to their willingness to conform to their environment (Foster, 2004; Ogbu, 1981). In this theory, minority students have the capability to participate successfully with White students within the classroom and on standardized tests (Lynn, 2006). Differences in academic achievement are based on how the subgroup adapts and conforms to the dominant groups in educational principles (Ogbu, 1981). Ogbu (1981) further explained that conformity is chosen by minorities based on “competencies”, which determines the amount of success one receives by “…abandoning or modifying substantially their competencies for achievement…” within the dominant society (p. 425). According to the CE theory, individuals from some subgroups “chose to conform”, as long as the adaptation to the dominant group does not go against their “rules of behavior for achievement” within their own culture (Ogbu, 1981, p. 425).

Purpose of the study

The purpose of this study was to examine differences in academic achievement among students who were White or Hispanic using archival data from the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS). Data examined were fifth grade reading and math passing rates from the 1993 through the 2009 school years. The fifth grade TAKS test is a component of the Student Success Initiative (SSI) which by law requires students to take the Math and Reading assessment and pass with at least a certain percentage rate to be qualified to advance to the next grade level (Student Success Initiative, n.d.). An examination of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) Reading and Math tests, as well as the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) Reading and Math tests across a 16-year period assisted in determining the extent to which an achievement gap was present and whether the achievement gap had declined, if any, and the extent to which equity had been established using statewide standardized assessment for students who were White or Hispanic.

Research questions

The following research questions were addressed in this study: (a) What is the difference in passing rates in reading between White students and Hispanic students in elementary school?; (b) What is the difference in passing rates in math between White students and Hispanic students in elementary school?; (c) What trends, if any, are present in the achievement gap in reading passing rates between White students and Hispanic students in elementary school?; and (d) What trends, if any, are present in the achievement gap in math passing rates between White students and Hispanic students in elementary school? The first two research questions were repeated for the 16 years of data analyzed in this study.

Method

Participants

Participants for this study were selected from the Texas Education Agency Academic Excellence Indicator System which collects and stores data pertaining to the TAKS and TAAS standardized examinations. Participants were chosen for this study based on their ethnicity (i.e., White or Hispanic) and involvement in the fifth grade Reading and Math TAAS or TAKS examination scores from the most recent 16 school years (i.e., 1993-1994 through 2008-2009). Fifth grade was selected because students are required to complete the TAAS or the TAKS, when it was administered in the spring of each year. As stated previously, the fifth grade state-mandated assessment is a component of the Student Success Initiative which by law requires students to take the Math and Reading assessment and pass with at least a certain percentage rate to be qualified to advance to the next grade level (Student Success Initiative, n.d.).

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Source:  OpenStax, The achievement gap between white and non-white students. OpenStax CNX. Jan 10, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11402/1.4
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