Greater Expectations: Teaching Academic Literacy to Underrepresented Students


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For example, poor children and culturally and linguistically diverse students tend to receive inferior instruction because they are usually placed in the bottom reading groups or sent out of the classroom for remedial instruction. Still other studies demonstrate that many teachers fail to communicate effectively with students from diverse backgrounds; typical and hard to change instructional procedures often violate the behavior norms of these students' home cultures Au, ; Cazden, ; Delpit, ; Heath, ; Ogbu, Also, teachers may have low expectations for students of diverse backgrounds and thus fail to present them with challenging and interesting lessons.

Academic Literacy Introduction

Schools have control over some factors but not others. If teachers understand these factors and their effects on young people who are newly arrived in the United States, they will be better able to assess their needs and strengths and find innovative ways of helping them adjust to their new schools and to life in a new culture. Some of these critical factors and their effects include the following issues.

The level of the family's socioeconomic resources is associated with success in school but is conditioned by other factors, such as immigrant status. Prior education in the country of origin is associated with success in school. The age of entrance into the United States affects success in the English language, as well as other academic areas, but the degree of success is also conditioned by literacy in the home language.

Those children who enter the United States before puberty will have an advantage in school. The longer the length of the stay in the United States, the greater the success in school. Unfortunately, this effect is offset by a reduction of motivation that comes through acculturation into the American society. Intact family and home support systems are associated with success in school.

Not surprisingly, unaccompanied minors and students from single-parent families are at greater risk of failure in school. In this context, it is important to understand how we define various ethnic groups see "Major U. Ethnic Groups," p. For example, Asian Americans are often viewed incorrectly as a single ethnic group. There are, however, many distinct subgroups of Asian Americans, each with its own culture, religion, and unique perspective.

Generalization across such subgroups can lead to misperceptions and a failure to recognize and address specific concerns and needs. It is also important to understand that the overall descriptor "Southeast Asian" generally refers to those who report their own ethnic identity as Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, or Hmong. The recent tendency to stereotype Asians as "high achievers" may mask significant and unique educational challenges and needs. Similarly, Hispanics or Latinos are also composed of many distinct subgroups. Although the U. Census Bureau classifies all Spanish-speaking peoples under the general heading "Hispanic origin," this term includes all persons who identify themselves as members of families from Mexico, Central and Spanish-speaking South America, the Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands, or Spain.

Furthermore, people of Hispanic origin may be of any race.


  1. Ebook High Expectations Teaching: How We Persuade Students to Believe and Act on "Smart Is.
  2. Sociology, Morals and Mystery: The Chichele Lectures Delivered in Oxford under the auspices of All Souls College, 1970.
  3. Essential Concepts in Sociology.

Finally, it is important to be aware that agencies dealing with population data refer to Alaskan Natives or American Indians as one group, even though the customs, languages, and cultures of the many tribes and nations of these two groups are vastly different. Major U. Ethnic Groups The U.

Account Options

African Americans or blacks refers to those of African ancestry who may have lived for generations in the United States. American Indians , also called Native Americans, were the original populations of North America before the arrival of the Spaniards, who were followed by the English, French, and other Europeans. American Indian groups often prefer to be called by their tribal affiliation or the nation to which they belong i. Asian Americans include all national-origin groups from Asia, some of whom come from technologically advanced countries like Japan.

Others come from countries where some of the population have access to advanced technology and others do not, such as Korea, China, Vietnam, and India.

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Hispanics also include descendants from Spain, while Latinos are those from the Americas living in the United States. People of Mexican descent are the largest Hispanic group in the United States, and many prefer to be called by their specific national origin such as Mexican American. Others may prefer terms they call themselves such as Chicanos. Considerable evidence supports this crucial conclusion: the differences in achievement observed between and among students of culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds and students of mainstream backgrounds are not the result of differences in ability to learn.

Rather, they are the result of differences in the quality of the instruction these young people have received in school. Moreover, many students who are at risk of failure in U. A multitude of complex factors contribute to students' at-risk status; many of these factors—crime, drugs, and poverty, among others—are beyond the control of educators. But educators do have the power to replace ineffective instructional practices.

The strategies that follow have been demonstrated to be effective in increasing student achievement. Strategy 2. Teachers who express high expectations convey the belief that their students have the ability to succeed in demanding activities. Such teachers avoid repetitive rote learning; instead, they involve young people in novel problem-solving activities. They ask open-ended questions requiring students to use their judgment and form opinions.


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  • They choose activities where students must use analytic skills, evaluate, and make connections. They expect students to conduct research, complete their homework, and manage their time effectively. Now that detracking and accelerated learning with support have been shown to be effective, teachers can confidently advocate for them. Hugh Mehan , p. According to Mehan , research has shown that the schools' practice of tracking neither provides students with equal educational opportunities nor serves the needs of employers for a well-educated workforce.

    Students from low-income and ethnic or linguistic minority backgrounds are disproportionately represented in low-track classes and they seldom move up to high-track classes. Students placed in low-track classes seldom receive the educational resources that are equivalent to students who are placed in high-track classes. They often suffer the stigmatizing consequences of negative labeling. They are not prepared well for careers or college.

    Greater Expectations : Robin Turner :

    In an attempt to provide greater educational equity, educators in California schools have been trying an alternative to tracking since the s. In San Diego, one such program— Achievement Via Individual Determination AVID —has revamped the curriculum, course structures, and pedagogical strategies into "multiple pathways" to college and career so that students are better prepared and have more options when they complete high school. AVID "untracks" low-achieving ethnic and language-minority students by placing both low- and high-achieving students in the same rigorous academic program.

    Students are taught explicitly how to study, how to work with teachers, and how to write college applications.

    These are skills often passed on by parents who have attended college, but they must be taught to students whose parents lack this form of "cultural capital. From to , 94 percent of AVID students enrolled in college, compared to 56 percent of all high school graduates. Jaime Escalante captured media attention with his success in teaching calculus to Hispanic students. His high expectations for his students and their subsequent accomplishments were the subject of the film Stand and Deliver. Yet many teachers who will never be the subject of a Hollywood film have inspired and guided pupil achievement.

    When teachers believe that students can learn, they communicate these expectations explicitly, thus encouraging young people, and they also spend more time creating challenging activities. They ask higher-order questions that require not only identification and categorization but also comprehension and analysis, application to other situations, synthesis, and value judgments. Heath and McLaughlin have found that one of the reasons for the effectiveness of after-school youth programs organized by community-based organizations is that staff members, often operating on a shoestring budget, depend on students to take some of the responsibility for activities.

    Young people plan, teach others, and perform a variety of tasks vital to the program. When students are brought into the planning and become coaches for others, they are given "adult" responsibilities and challenges; everyone must be able to depend on everyone else to show up on time and do his or her part. In addition, involving students in the financial aspects of such operations whether by fundraising or making requests of foundations fosters involvement, responsibility, and the learning of math skills. Students acquire social skills along with communication and performance skills.

    In such collaborative work, diversity of skills is seen as a resource for the entire group; everyone brings something different to the table. When journal writing is a required part of students' group responsibilities, they reflect on what they are learning, practice writing skills, and keep the staff informed of their individual progress and well-being.

    Greater Expectations: Teaching Academic Literacy to Underrepresented Students
    Greater Expectations: Teaching Academic Literacy to Underrepresented Students
    Greater Expectations: Teaching Academic Literacy to Underrepresented Students
    Greater Expectations: Teaching Academic Literacy to Underrepresented Students
    Greater Expectations: Teaching Academic Literacy to Underrepresented Students

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