An investigation of the attitudes, beliefs, and values of elementary school teachers toward race and schooling
TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION 1 Statement of the Problem 2 Definition of Terms 11 Purpose of the Study 11 Research Questions 12 Significance of the Study 12 Limitations of the Study 13 Overview 13 CHAPTER II. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE 15 History of Racial Groups 15 Trends from Past to Present 25 Current Status 28 Perceptions of Race 35 Strategies for Closing the Achievement Gap 48 Effective Teachers and Impact on Student Achievement 56 Essential Principles for Teaching and Learning 67 Summary 70 CHAPTER III. METHODOLOGY 71 Sample Selection 73 Development of Survey Instrument 77 Reliability of the Instrument 83 Validity of the Instrument 84 Procedures 85 Administration of Survey Instrument 85 Analysis of Data 86 Summary 88 CHAPTER IV. RESULTS 90 Description of the Sample 90 Instrument Reliability 93 Responses to Research Questions 95 Summary 132 v
CHAPTER V. CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 137 Summary of the Purpose of the Study 137 Summary and Discussion of the Findings 139 Conclusions 154 Implications 159 Recommendations for Further Research 161 Summary 162 REFERENCES 165 APPENDIX A. APPROVAL FOR USING SURVEY INSTRUMENT 183 APPENDIX B. SINGLETON'S RACE AND SCHOOLING INSTRUMENT.... 185 APPENDIX C. REVISED RACE AND SCHOOLING INSTRUMENT 189 APPENDIX D. INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPLICATION AND APPROVAL 194 vi
LIST OF TABLES 1. State Graduation Rates from 1997-2000 31 2. ACT Composite Scores in 2007 by Race/Ethnicity 32 3. ACT Subject Scores in 2007 by Race/Ethnicity 33 4. SAT Total Mean Scores by Race/Ethnicity 2007 34 5. Gallup Poll Results 36 6. 2007 Demographic Descriptors of Feeder Area Elementary School Students.. 76 7. 2007 District CSAP Scores of Reading, Writing, and Math: Grades 3-5 77 8. Principles and Categories Represented in the Race and Schooling Instrument. 81 9. Demographic Profiles of Responding Elementary Teachers 91 10. Feeder Area Responses 92 11. Years of Experience of Elementary Teacher Respondents 93 12. Reliability Analysis for Survey Categories 94 13. Teacher Responses by Feeder Area 96 14. F and p Values for Race and Schooling Instrument Categories 98 15. Mean Scores Based on Years of Total Teaching Experience 99 16. Mean Scores Based on Years of Teaching Experience in District 101 17. Mean Scores by Race of Respondents 103 18. Mean by Gender of Respondents 105 19. District Mean Scores 106 20. School Culture Significant Differences 107 vii
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32, 33, 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. Community Significant Differences 108 Achievement Results Significant Differences 109 Professional Staff Development Significant Differences I l l Engagement Significant Differences 112 Learning and Teaching Significant Differences 114 Relationships Significant Differences 115 Values for Feeder Areas 116 School Culture Significant Differences for Feeder 1 117 Community Significant Differences for Feeder 1 118 Achievement Results Significant Differences for Feeder 1 119 School Culture Significant Differences for Feeder 2 120 Community Significant Differences for Feeder 2 121 Achievement Results Significant Differences for Feeder 2 121 Professional Staff Development Significant Differences for Feeder 2 122 School Culture Significant Differences for Feeder 3 123 Community Significant Differences for Feeder 3 124 Achievement Results Significant Differences for Feeder 3 125 School Culture Significant Differences for Feeder 4 126 Achievement Results Significant Differences for Feeder 4 127 Community Significant Differences for Feeder 4 127 School Culture Significant Differences for Feeder 5 128 Community Significant Differences for Feeder 5 129 Achievement Results Significant Differences for Feeder 5 130 viii
44. School Culture Significant Differences for Feeder 6 131 45. Community Significant Differences for Feeder 6 132 46. 2007 Demographic Descriptors of Feeder Area Elementary School Students.. 140 47. Feeder Area 6 and District Mean Scores 141 48. Feeder Area 4 and District Mean Scores 142 49. Rank Order of Race and Schooling Mean Scores by Feeder Area 146 ix
LIST OF FIGURES 1. Flow chart of sample identification
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION The school reform movement has been a priority for government officials and policy milkers for decades. Although school reform trends have experienced many accomplishments, notable challenges continue. National attention has been drawn to the concern, now commonly referred to as the racial gap in academic achievement (Noguera & Akom, 2000). Newspapers and magazines decry the gap in headline articles, educators and academics discuss it frequently at conferences, and school board officials write strategic plans to address student need. The existence of an achievement gap between white students and students of color in standardized testing is well documented and widely recognized (Uhlenberg & Brown, 2002). Finding ways to tackle, reduce, and eventually eliminate the race-related achievement gap is one of the most pressing policy challenges for public education in the United States. The problem this study investigated was the extent to which elementary teachers in a suburban school district report their receptivity to cultural responsiveness and race- related topics in teaching and learning. Narrowing race-related achievement gaps has been the subject of many previous studies (Ferguson, 2001; Haycock, 2001; Jencks & Phillips, 1998; Lee, 1993, 2002). Some of the previous studies claimed that the significance of a teacher in a child's life can impact student achievement more than any curricular or instructional innovation (Darling- Hammond & Post, 2000). These studies
2 also showed that teachers can directly affect the climate in their classroom by building strong relationships with students. As a result, quality teachers who embrace culturally responsive teaching practices are critical. If we are to narrow or eliminate a racial achievement gap in public schools, addressing the values, attitudes, and beliefs of teachers regarding race and schooling must be a focus for school districts. However, none of these earlier studies considered to what extent teachers who have the values, attitudes, and beliefs to confront institutional biases and discrimination in schools can impact culturally responsive learning environments to meet the needs of all students, especially students of color. The focus of this study was to investigate the responses of elementary teachers from six feeder areas within a suburban district as they reported their receptivity to cultural responsiveness and race-related topics in teaching and learning. It identified the values, belief, and attitudes of elementary teachers regarding race and schooling. The district was selected because it has provided teachers with extensive staff development regarding race and schooling. The six feeder areas identified in the district provided varied racial populations of students served by teachers, thereby adding depth and perspective to the study. The literature review synthesizes the historical issues and nature of race achievement gaps and reveals current research regarding indicators of the achievement gap. Statement of the Problem Interest in this investigation and selection of this particular problem stemmed from (a) the need to close race-related achievement gaps; (b) the importance of quality teachers; (c) the values, beliefs, and attitudes of teachers regarding race and schooling;
3 and (d) the need for culturally competent educators and classrooms. The blend of these sources indicates a need to sustain a culturally responsive teacher workforce in order to measurably reduce gaps in achievement among racially diverse student populations. Need to Close Race-Related Achievement Gaps One of the greatest challenges facing educators today is the achievement gap between white students and students of color (Bainbridge & Lasley, 2002). However, race-related achievement gaps are not a new issue. The dilemma has existed for years as people in the United States have struggled for decades with racial issues. Given our present society, the consequences of a continued gap in achievement among students are significant. If current trends in educational achievement continue, millions of students (primarily students of color) will not obtain the education necessary for full participation in the economic and civic life of the country. Furthermore, inequality that results from differences in educational achievement of children is likely to make the social stability of the United States increasingly doubtful (Bowman, 1993). Low academic achievement of our students leads to a potential future of decreasing industrial productivity, unrealized tax revenues, rising welfare costs, increased poverty, and a future labor force with limited skills (National Center for Educational Statistics [NCES], 2005). Therefore, the reduction of achievement gaps in our public schools is essential for the future of our society. Policies Impacting Achievement Gap The federal government has made policy changes in attempting to bridge gaps in achievement, but these policies have failed to close them. For more than 40 years, federal policy has tried to address these educational inequities. For example, Title I was created
4 to provide billions of dollars to schools serving concentrations of disadvantaged children (Aud, 2007). Yet, even with the addition of Title I dollars, schools serving concentrations of children of color provide less of the very thing they need the most in catching up with other children—effective teachers. Haycock (2004) revealed that Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 presumes that there are equal educational opportunities for all students before application of federal funds; federal monies merely provide "extras" for some students. It is true that schools with the greatest need get the most federal Title I money. However, they also tend to have more inexperienced teachers and under-qualified teachers with lower levels on pay scales (Haycock). Consequently, even after the addition of Title I funds, school districts often actually spend less money in Title I schools and schools with high percentages of students of color than they do in other schools, even after the addition of Title I funds. Title I demands "comparability" in the educational opportunities provided in Title I schools and non-Title I schools. However, Title I law does not account for district disparities in teacher qualifications and pay rates across different schools (Peske & Haycock, 2006). These Title I schools typically do not receive additional money to train and support their staff. The achievement gap maintains national concern. Since the mid-1980s, the school reform movement has been a priority for government officials and policymakers and the race-related achievement gap is at the forefront of school reform. In an interview with Zach Miners (2008), Nina Rees, the former Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the United States Department of Education, emphasized that the achievement gap remains a cornerstone of efforts to improve American education. The
5 federal education law backed by President Bush and Congress—No Child Left Behind-- stresses its importance. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires states and school districts to set the same performance targets for children from all major ethnic and racial groups. The NCLB emphasized the importance for all children to have highly qualified teachers. If they do not, the Department of Education may need to provide a plan for correcting these inequities in measurable ways so that our children are not neglected year after year. In 2002, Congress, realizing that achievement gaps cannot be closed without closing gaps in teacher quality, ordered that states address the issue in NCLB. Congress insisted that states and school districts commit to identifying and addressing shortages of qualified teachers in high-poverty and high-minority schools if they wanted to continue receiving federal funds to help with the education of disadvantaged students. It remains to be seen if NCLB is sufficient to address the varied gaps characterized by Bracey (2002; urban, rural, suburban, racial, socioeconomic) or whether it is limited emphasis on standards and accountability that targets schools, teachers, and students with a simplistic variation of the "one-size-fits-all" factory model introduced in the early 1900s. Mechanistic approaches (like NCLB) to organizations often have limitations. According to Morgan (1996), these machine-like approaches can create organizational forms that have difficulty in adapting to changing circumstances, result in bureaucracy, and have dehumanizing effects, especially for those in lower levels of the organizational hierarchy. Although the issue of race-related achievement gaps is of national concern, the responsibility for resolution ultimately lies in the hands of local public school districts. The challenges our public schools face are great, but so is the promise of a nation that
6 works to make the American Dream a reality for each of its citizens. The connection between democracy and public schools is a deep and significant one that is worth developing and preserving. Public schools, if done correctly, can fuel democracy (Nieto, 2007). Value of Quality Teachers Teacher quality is a commonly cited contributor to the achievement gap (Darling- Hammond, 2000; Darling-Hammond & Post, 2000; Hanushek, 2002; Hirsch, 2001; Ingersoll, 2004; Peske & Haycock, 2006; Rice, 2003; Whitehurst, 2003). Several studies provided evidence that distinctions in teacher effectiveness have a profound effect on how much students learn (Darling-Hammond & Post). A disparity in teacher quality among schools has been identified as a contributor to race-related achievement gaps, but teacher quality can be measured in a variety of ways. Research indicates that a teacher's level of literacy corresponds to student achievement. Often "the very youngsters who are most dependent on their teacher for content knowledge are systematically taught by teachers with the least knowledge" (Haycock, 1998, p. 62). For example, Haycock (2004) reports that in a 1996 study of teachers in several metropolitan Alabama districts, researchers found that a significant increase in the test scores of teachers who teach African-American children would produce a substantial decline in the Black/White test- score gap in that state. Teachers' academic skills had a considerable impact on student achievement (Haycock, 2004). Throughout the United States, it is a documented fact that Black inner city schools consistently employ many more inexperienced teachers than do integrated suburban schools. Urban schools are more likely to hire teachers without full credentials. As a
7 result, Black students are taught by under qualified teachers more often than White students (Uhlenberg & Brown, 2002). . Contemporary understandings of teacher quality consider teaching in light of student learning as measured by student achievement indicators. "Researchers look for causal relationships between teacher characteristics (education levels, content knowledge, instructional practices, experiences, and certification status) and measure student achievement on standardized tests" (Owings et al., 2006, p. 106). Research continues to support that classroom teacher quality is the most important school factor in predicting student achievement outcomes. This topic has been extensively studied (Darling- Hammond, 2000; Hanushek & Rivkin, 2004; Haycock & Huang, 2001; Whitehurst, 2003). Researchers may dispute the significance of certification, degrees held, and experience, but they all agree that teacher quality matters (Sanders & Rivers, 1996). Some research findings indicate that teacher quality as measured by certification status is significant (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Ferguson, 1998a; Haycock; 1998). They show a positive correlation between (a) teachers who are certified, score well on tests, and have a degree in the field they teach; and (b) increases in student performance. This is particularly significant to the achievement gap because inner city Black students are more likely to be taught by under-qualified teachers (Simmons & Ebbs, 2001). There is also considerable research showing how important teachers' content knowledge is to their effectiveness with students, especially at the middle and high school level. Research on teachers who took the Texas Examination of Current Administrators and Teachers in 1986, an instrument required for recertification, found that high teacher test scores had a positive impact on students' basic skills and the positive impact
8 accumulates over time (Ferguson, 1998a). Ferguson asserted that "studies tend to show that teachers' exam scores help to predict student scores" (p. 367). Darling-Hammond (2000) found similar conclusions using data from multiple sources including the 1993- 1994 Schools and Staffing Survey and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. She concluded that "teacher quality is significantly and positively correlated to student outcomes" (p. 23). A requirement for demonstrating content knowledge is embedded in the "highly qualified" teacher provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Administrators seek highly qualified teachers to meet the requirements of NCLB and community expectations for increasing student achievement (Owings et al., 2006). Often, teacher preparation varies greatly, but experience also plays a role in teacher quality. Research suggests that teachers are considerably more effective after completing two years on the job. Teacher effectiveness escalates in the first three years of teaching. Clearly, content knowledge alone is not sufficient for effective teaching (Darling-Hammond, 2000). Low standards, a lack of resources, and less-qualified teachers in schools that serve large numbers of Black students have been cited as issues that allow the achievement gap to persist (Darling-Hammond, 2000). A shift in emphasis from basic skill development, which helped to boost scores of the lowest performing students in the 1970s and 1980s, to one of higher order skills for which students may be less well prepared has also been noted (Darling-Hammond). However, the effects of racism simply cannot be disentangled from a myriad of other economic and social factors that affect Black students and their success in school.
9 Education leaders and policymakers must continue to confront the achievement gap. Hiring quality teachers makes an impact and all students deserve high quality instruction. Students of color do not just score lower on tests; they are less prepared for college and the workplace (Jencks & Phillips, 1998). If this problem is ignored, we will face a future that is both fundamentally unacceptable for our children and economically indefensible for our nation. Importance of Positive Teacher/Student Relationships in Closing the Gap The need to effectively address race-related differences was less of an issue when classrooms were more homogeneous and teachers and students shared similar backgrounds, traits, values, and characteristics. While today's classroom—whether in an urban, rural, or suburban setting—is more diverse than ever before, the majority of school personnel continue to come from middle class, European-American backgrounds (National Collaborative on Diversity in the Teaching Force [NCDTF], 2004). Many educators are now struggling to connect with learners who are much different from themselves with cultural backgrounds distinctly different from each other and from their teachers. The need for educators to embrace the notion of building relationships with students of all races as a means of helping them to reach high standards is eminent. Research on teachers' abilities to build rapport and significant relationships with students is not a strand that has been fully investigated. However, some researchers like Darling- Hammond (1997) found that the ability to develop positive teacher/student relationships made a significant impact on improving student performance. When teachers are culturally responsive, student performance improves (Gay, 2000). Culturally responsive teaching involves many things: curriculum content, learning
context, classroom climate, instructional techniques, and performance assessments. It also includes positive teacher/student relationships (Gay). Ladson-Billings (1994) studied actual instruction in elementary classrooms and observed the aforementioned values being demonstrated. She saw that when students were part of a more collective effort designed to encourage academic and cultural excellence, expectations were clearly expressed, skills taught, and interpersonal relations were exhibited. Students behaved like members of an extended family assisting, supporting, and encouraging each other. Students were held accountable as part of a larger group; it was everyone's task to make certain that each individual member of the group was successful. By promoting this academic community of learners, teachers built relationships with students by responding to the students' need for a sense of belonging, honoring their human dignity, and promoting their individual self-concepts (Gay). This study began with the notion that cultural responsiveness is an attribute of a quality teacher. Culturally responsive teachers empower their students and culturally responsive teaching empowers students to be better human beings and more successful learners (Gay, 2000). Empowerment can be described as academic competence, self- efficacy, and initiative. Students must believe they can succeed in learning tasks and have motivation to persevere. Teachers must demonstrate ambitious and appropriate expectations and exhibit support for students in their efforts toward academic achievement. This can be done through attribution retraining by providing resources and personal assistance, modeling positive self-efficacy beliefs, and celebrating individual and collective accomplishments (Gay).
11 Definition of Terms Achievement gap. The observed disparity on educational measures between the performance of groups of students, especially groups defined by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. It most often describes the issue of low-income/minority education in the United States, i.e., Blacks and Latinos and students from poor families perform worse in school than their well-off White and Asian peers. Cultural responsiveness. The ability to learn from and relate respectfully to people from your own and other races, ethnicities, and cultures. Quality teacher. Educators who possess the skill, knowledge, and talent to positively impact student achievement. Race Categories. For the purpose of this study, student assessment data will be divided into four groupings: White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which elementary teachers report their receptivity to cultural responsiveness and race-related topics in teaching and learning. It examined the values, beliefs, and attitudes of elementary school teachers regarding race and schooling as measured by the Race and Schooling Instrument. The survey instrument used in this study has been modeled after an original survey developed by Singleton (2003). The instrument seeks to elicit responses related to participants' levels of involvement in cultural responsive teaching as well as beliefs and attitudes regarding race and schooling. The literature review investigates (a) the historical and political significance of race-related achievement gaps; (b) the current status of race- related gaps in student achievement; (c) strategies for closing the gap; (d) the value of
12 culturally responsive, quality teachers as a means of eliminating such gaps; and (e) essential principles for teaching and learning. Research Questions The following questions were addressed in this study: Q1 Are there differences in how elementary teachers score on the Race and Schooling Instrument based on the feeder area in which they teach? Q2 Are there differences in how elementary teachers score on the Race and Schooling Instrument based on the following demographics: (a) years of teaching experience, (b) years of teaching within the district, (c) race, and (d) gender? Q3 How do district mean scores differ for each of the seven categories on the Race and Schooling Instrument? Q4 Are there differences among the responses in the seven categories of the Race and Schooling Instrument within each of the six feeder areas? Significance of the Study Proposed strategies for closing the gap in previous studies varied widely. They included changing beliefs and attitudes of parents, families, students, and teachers; teacher quality; greater opportunities to learn; effective instruction; and more family and community involvement. Absent from current research was information on identifying how teachers' levels of involvement in culturally responsive teaching practices and beliefs and attitudes about confronting institutional bias and discrimination in schools impact student achievement. By utilizing the Race and Schooling School-Based Educators Instrument to determine the extent to which elementary teachers reported their receptivity to cultural responsiveness and race-related topics in teaching and learning, the district obtained a picture of differences and similarities of elementary teachers within the feeder areas.
This provided the district with opportunities to differentiate staff development based on feeder area. Implications for the district not only included strategies for future staff development but also planned for recruitment and retention of quality teachers. Other districts would also benefit from the study as they consider their own approaches in working with teachers to improve race-related issues of their own. This study also had implications for future research as the focus shifted from concentrating on an "achievement gap in students" to a "teaching gap in schools." If researchers and practitioners seek to narrow or eliminate a racial achievement gap in public schools, addressing the values, attitudes and beliefs of teachers regarding race and schooling must be the focus. Limitations of the Study Some limitations with regard to this study must be considered. The study concentrated on teachers from one suburban school district. Careful consideration was given to this district— narrowing the race-related achievement gap had been the topic of staff development efforts in this district for several years. The district had received much publicity for their efforts. The methodology of the study was quantitative in nature and might not have fully addressed all of the nuances of the topic. Overview The study is organized into five chapters. Chapter I introduces the problem to be investigated, discusses how the study was selected, defines terms, identifies the purpose, briefly outlines its limitations, and provides an overview. Chapter II reviews relevant literature related to the topic of the historical and present status of the achievement gap, and how this gap in achievement interweaves with quality teaching. It also examines
14 relevant theory, research, and literature that gave direction to the study. Chapter III shares research methodology, rationale for its selection, identification of the participants, data collection, data analysis, data reporting, trustworthiness of the data, and description of the study's limitations. Chapters IV and V share findings, discuss the implications of these findings, and suggest areas for further research.
CHAPTER II REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE This chapter presents a review of literature that begins with an examination of the historical significance of race in our nation. It is necessary to have an understanding of past experiences of various racial groups in order to fully tackle the problem of the race- related achievement gap as it presently exists in our public schools. This chapter also explains the impact of racial history on the current achievement gap, gives relevant details regarding perceptions about race, and outlines trends of the gap from past to present. This chapter provides discussion of teacher quality and culturally responsive teaching related to the achievement of students of color. Essential teaching and learning practices that outline ways in which educators confront institutional bias and discrimination in schools are also presented. History of Racial Groups The history of specific minority groups in our nation is important to investigate as the current status of racial academic achievement is explored. Singleton (2006) writes, It seems impossible of us to fully separate our current reality from our history and experiences. Even if we could do so, why would we, given that there is so much to learn from what has happened in our individual or collective pasts, especially with regard to race, race relations, and racism? We can uncover critical perspective and develop deeper interracial relationships as we examine our interrelated histories, which continue to nourish the foundation of our daily racial interactions, (p. 105)
A re-examination of America's historical record, replacing confronting majority interpretations of events with ones that square more accurately with minority experiences, offers evidence that in the past had been suppressed and supports new interpretations of racial experiences in America (Delgado & Stefanic, 2001). Even though the historical overview clearly illustrates the issues of discrimination from a Black and White viewpoint, there are critical concerns for other groups as well. Conversations about race, racism, and racial identity tend to focus on Black and White relationships; however, to do so ignores the experiences of other targeted racial groups (Tatum, 1997). The encounters of Latinos, Asians, and American Indians in the United States also demonstrate historical oppression. The magnitude, complexity, and longevity of racial struggle in the United States rule out any possibility of discovering a "quick fix" (Singleton & Linton, 2006). History of Blacks Racial equity in education among Blacks and Whites is not a new topic. According to Anderson (1997), the history of discrimination for Blacks can be traced back to 1517 in Spain with the "Asientos de Negroes" which was the first public policy to enforce illiteracy for Blacks. Prior to this, Blacks were represented in various professions throughout Europe and Africa. However, the Spanish policy denied education for Blacks and it became the global model for planned Black illiteracy (Anderson). Throughout the slavery period in the United States, Blacks were subject to compulsory ignorance laws that forbid anyone from teaching Blacks how to read or write. By the early 19th century, the idea of educating Blacks was still highly unpopular, i.e., the destruction of the Richmond African School. In 1811, a wealthy, free Black man named Christopher McPherson hired a White schoolmaster to teach at his newly created school for free