Gap Analysis Report 2004

 

Gap Analysis 2004

Executive Summary

 

The Gap Analysis Report released by the North Texas P-16 Council in May 2003 presented an overview of gaps in the achievement of students in the Dallas Fort Worth region. One year later, the Gap Analysis Task Group was charged with updating this report. Major changes in the environment during the intervening year include replacement of TAAS by the TAKS and greater implementation of the accountability and teacher quality provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Data for the report and the update were taken from the Academic Excellence Indicator System Report of the Texas Education Agency and reports of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the State Board for Educator Certification, and of the private college members of the North Texas P-16 Council. This executive summary offers highlights of the 2003 report and the 2004 update. The full reports may be read on this page.

 

Overview of the K-12 Gaps Identified

The major gaps identified K-12 are that 1) African American and Hispanic students score lower than white students on all TAKS indicators; 2) mathematics scores are significantly lower for African American students; and 3) a lower percentages of African American and Hispanic students enroll in advanced courses, are tested in advanced placement courses, and achieve acceptable scores on national college entrance exams. Overall, gaps remain in all areas of theTAKS Indicators. Although there has been slight progress in terms of the non-TAKS Indicators for which longitudinal data are available, African American and Hispanic students remain behind white students in all areas noted, including gaps in completion of the Recommended High School Curriculum by African American and Hispanic students, compared to white students. After the TAKS have been in place for at least three years, we should be able to provide a longitudinal view of student performance with this new measure.

 

Overview of Postsecondary Gaps Identified

Gaps in college student success measures confirm that students who are Hispanic, African American, and/or financially disadvantaged are less likely than white students to persist in college. Intervention programs can positively affect student success. Lack of updated data has limited our ability to report progress in closing the gaps in need for remediation as assessed by the TASP, recently replaced by the THEA, assessment of basic skills.

The North Texas P-16 Council is beginning to track dual credit enrollment, one of the student success measures supported by the Texas Legislature. A decrease in the number of students in the region enrolled in dual credit courses from 2002 to 2003 was accompanied by increased gaps in participation of African American and Hispanic students in dual credit.   

The 2004 update reported new information on teacher supply and demand in the region, with focus on the content fields assessed by the TAKS and bilingual/ESL, as a field relevant to gaps in K-12 student achievement. Shortages of teachers certified in the content fields of interest were noted in P-16 Council member school districts as reflected by the emergency permits issued and by percentages of teachers teaching out of field. Teacher shortages are especially prevalent in schools that serve a majority of students of color.

The number of new teachers prepared in the region in content areas of interest is generally on the rise, with much of the increased production due to alternative program providers. Their work does not address, however, the future need for teacher candidates with college majors in the appropriate content areas. Few of the region’s teacher education entities are preparing teachers of color in proportion to the student population of the region. Also of concern is the extent to which newly prepared teachers are concentrated in schools that serve large percentages of Hispanic and African American students. A consistent body of research demonstrates the positive effect of teacher experience on student learning.

 

Updated Recommendations

Recommendations of the North Texas P-16 Council are as follows.

1. The Council needs to continue to track the achievement of students in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies as we move into the TAKS era.

 2. Practices of teachers whose students, including African American and Hispanic students, perform successfully on the TAKS are a good starting point for discussions of vertical alignment of content curriculum.

 3. There is need to attend, along with focus on the TAKS, to successful completion of AP/IB exams and SAT/ACT tests, with particular attention to reasons that participation and success of student from certain subgroups has tended to be low.

 4. The Council must seek implementation of strategies such as dual credit, advanced placement, and bridge programs, that make high school more rigorous and that anticipate college entry for all students.

 5. Model policy for dual credit, advanced placement, and bridge programs should be developed to maximize the impact of these programs on student learning and college entry and retention.

 6. Every possible academic and community resource needs to be directed to improving college entry and retention for students from ethnic and income groups that are underrepresented in higher education.

7. There is need for focus on the role of counselors and student services personnel in closing the gaps with attention to how factors such as counselor preparation and certification, bilingualism, and experience, support the academic success of students.

 8. Resources of the National Writing Project and other cross-level staff development programs need to be focused on the achievement gaps noted in our region.

 9. The Higher Education Coordinating Board statistical indicators should be updated as regularly and consistently as those of the Texas Education Agency.

 10. The Council should continue to track the qualifications of teachers, including substitute teachers, in our region.

 11. There is need to replicate best practices in remediation to assure student success in postsecondary education and alignment of remediation with the connected curricula.

 12. Future educator clubs and secondary teaching academies should be started to seed pipeline programs for teachers, supporting candidates through community college, university content majors and teacher preparation programs.

 13. Recruitment and retention of mathematics and science teachers must be a priority for our region, with its high-tech industrial base.

 14. There is urgent need to recruit and retain bilingual and ESL educators who can assure student learning and lead colleagues in implementing teaching and learning strategies that maximize the achievement of English language learners.

 15. Programs are needed to ease the entry of bilingual para-educators and internationally certified teachers into teaching in our region.

 16. There is need to study the extent to which regional teacher education programs prepare candidates for urban schools.

 17. The P-16 Council should continue to study articulation agreements that ease transitions of future teachers from the community college to university teacher education and support transfer of students who have completed the proposed Associate of Arts in Teaching degree.

 18. Businesses in our region need to become involved in discussions of how candidates from groups currently underrepresented can be supported in higher education and how qualified graduates can be assured of employment.

 19. Updates to the Gap Analysis Report should include member practices that are successful in closing the gaps.

 

The North Texas P-16 Council will continue to address recommendations through its work groups. Current work groups include dual credit/concurrent enrollment, teacher education, and gap analysis updates.