Gap Analysis Report 2005

 

Gap Analysis 2005

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. The 2005 Gap Analysis Update represents the second update of the original report that also takes into consideration changes in the educational environment. Environmental changes in 2004 included replacement of the TAAS by the TAKS and increased implementation of the accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. In 2005, changes in the environment included the greater stakes of theTAKS, with scores now affecting student promotion and graduation; inception of the Texas High School Project with focus on the shortcomings of the large comprehensive high school; and uncertainty by the states, including Texas, about how to implement the teacher accountability provisions of No Child Left Behind. As in previous years, the 2005 update focuses on the senior year of high school, but it includes more national data that augments understanding of trends in student achievement in the region. Data for 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.

Data are also included from the Education Commission of the States, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, the National Governors Association, and the National Center for Educational Statistics. This executive summary offers highlights of the 2005 update. The full report and earlier reports may be read at www.coe.unt.edu/NTP16.

 

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) science and mathematics scores are much lower for African American and Hispanic students; and 3) 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 are closing slightly in the 3rd and 11th grade TAKS indicators. On the 5th and 8th grade TAKS, gaps in achievement are unchanged or becoming wider. For the non-TAKS Indicators, gaps remain unchanged in enrollment of African-American and Hispanic students in the Recommended High School Curriculum but are closing slightly for enrollment in advanced courses. In 2006, we hope to be able to analyze longitudinal data about student performance on this measure. National data suggest that the gaps in student achievement observed in North Texas are not unique to this region, but focus on this region can help the Council gauge the results of our collective effort.

 

Overview of Postsecondary Gaps Identified

Postsecondary data collected from several different sources show gaps between African American and Hispanic students, compared to white students, in 1) enrollment in dual credit 2 courses while still enrolled in high school, 2) the need for remediation as a prerequisite to postsecondary study upon college entry, and 3) three-year persistence rates in college. Community colleges and universities in the region are developing programs designed to foster student success in college, and collection of the evidence of the impact of these programs is beginning. The rate of college entry for Texas high school graduates remains low compared to the nation, in general. Recent designation by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board of common indicators for collection by public institutions will help the North Texas P-16 Council in tracking postsecondary developments in the future. Teacher supply and demand, a major interest of the Council, continues to show shortages of teachers certified in their content fields in all of the TAKS-tested subjects and in bilingual/ESL education. Shortages of certified teachers are especially prevalent in schools that serve a majority of students of color. One way that Texas has addressed the teacher quality provision of No Child Left Behind has been to encourage broad-field certification in subjects such as social studies and science, as compared to certification in narrower fields such as history, geography, chemistry, or physics. The effect of broad-field certification on student achievement has not been studied.

The number of new teachers prepared in the region in content areas of interest is generally on a decline since a peak in 2001-2002. Although the urgent demand for bilingual/ESL teachers is being addressed, this is not true in math and science, where annual teacher attrition exceeds production of initially certified teachers. Much of the regional demand for teachers is currently being addressed by alternative certification programs; however, alternative providers cannot address the future need for teacher candidates with college majors in the needed content areas. In the past year, there has been no change in the percentage of teachers of color completing teacher preparation programs in 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 should to continue to track the achievement of students in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies based on TAKS performance and other available indicators.

2. Attention should be paid to student achievement of non-TAKS indicators of success,  including gaps in completion of AP/IB programs and exams, and SAT/ACT test results.

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

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

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

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

7. 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 at reasonable cost.

8. 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.

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

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

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

12. Practices of teachers whose students, including African American and Hispanic students, perform successfully on the TAKS should serve as a starting point for discussions of vertical alignment of content curriculum.

13. Professional development programs that effectively focus on the achievement gaps noted in our region must be supported.

14. Future educator clubs and secondary teaching academies should be implemented to seed pipeline programs for teachers that support candidates through community college and university content majors and teacher preparation programs.

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

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

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

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

19. 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.