A Significant Racial Gap in Academic Preparation for a College-Level Curriculum

Distance Education Courses for Public Elementary and Secondary School Students: 2009–10At the start of their college careers, students who are not sufficiently prepared to complete entry-level courses are often encouraged or required to take developmental or remedial courses. New information from the U.S. Department of Education shows that during the 2007-08 academic year, 30.2 percent of all first-year African American college students took remedial courses. The Department of Education defines remedial courses as courses for students lacking skills necessary to perform college-level work at the degree of rigor required by the institution.

There is a major racial gap in preparation for the rigors of a college curriculum. Some 19.9 percent of White students took remedial classes compared to 30.2 percent of Black students.

Black men were slightly more prepared for college curriculum than were Black women. In the 2007-08 academic year, 31.2 percent of Black women took remedial courses compared to 28.7 percent of Black men.

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  1. This data is not really surprising given the challenges African Americans and other minority groups continue to have in persisting if they decide to pursue a postsecondary degree program. The most important issue is whether postsecondary institutions are engaging in research-based strategies to help African American students and others who are identified as ‘underprepared’ to develop the skills necessary to successfully persist once they enter their respective institutions. The other piece of this puzzle is the implementation of appropriate assessment and evaluation processes to improve their effectiveness on an annual basis.

    • African American students should be just as prepared to enter major colleges and universities as any other students. The only obstacle which prohibits our students from attaining academic success is desire which begins at an early age. In this competitive universe there are no excuses and no one trying to help Johnny catch-up when he has had 6,570 days from birth to 18 to be prepared.

      • Dr. Patton,

        I do agree with many of your comments, but the reality of the situation is many African American students as well as other people of color are not prepared but still want to attain a college degree. The fact that many institutions admit these students who are classified as ‘underprepared’ mean that they, the institutions are obligated to try to address those educational deficits that are discovered upon entry to their respective institutions. Granted that some institutions are only admitting them for self-serving reasons (e.g. increase enrollment numbers), the obligation is to address those ‘deficits’ otherwise it is a real travesty to give false hope to those students entering higher education institutions. The issues you raise are just as real and valid, but what do institutions do with those who have entered this past year, the next academic year, and so on?

      • I disagree. You’re missing a bigger picture. There are K-12 systems that miseducated nonwhite minority students in low income districts. Minority students can graduate from high school. That doesn’t mean they are “college ready” (because today’s high schools are not all the equal) because they lack “international baccalaureate programs”, AP programs, advisers, and college prep programs.There are still racial gaps between white and black achievement. Dr. Patton you must not have read the racial gap page, or Time Wise’s “white privilege”.

        Johnny from a black district may have graduated from high school but he is not near equal to white johnny from the “RICH WHITE DISTRICT”
        Academic scholars feel minority students should go to all white universities and learn to play the role of token negros so they can grow up to become people like Clarence Thomas.
        Professional degree family negros with MBA, MDs, JDs, PHDs who are in the black aristocracy are there to broker deals with the white supremacy power structure to give the allusion that things are better educational wise. The negros with the high powered degrees their financial future is looking bad because many of them can’t find the careers they want. Huey Newton graduated from a high school and was no where near college ready and was illiterate. But look what kind of man he became as he matured in the black power struggle.

        • Creole,

          You might be missing some important points that Dr. Patton is trying to make. You are correct in stating that many African Americans and other people of color are from school districts that do not have the resources, curriculum, or teachers that adequately prepare their students for college. There are black students who attend predominantly minority schools that have the requisite skills to succeed in college. The factors of success also include whether the students are receiving signals from adults that say ‘you are expected to succeed; you are going to go to college; I know you will do well not only in high school, but in college as well.’ These messages come first from the home because the students’ parent or parents instill in their children the importance of education and their expectations that they will learn all of what there is to learn, wherever they attend school. If the school is deficient, the solutions involve finding external programs that can make up for the deficiencies. Sometimes this means talking with other parents, professionals, etc. early on to understand what it means to have a student ‘college ready’.

          • Dr. Patton made some excellent points however both Dr. Henderson and Dr. Patton we must look at the education system from a bigger global picture in terms of “racial gaps”. The first task to do is look at the “usage of language” when it pertains to high school diplomas and “college readiness.” (ALL HIGH SCHOOLS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL) When Black johnny decides to go college he cant keep up with white johnny because he never had access to college prep programs, AP classes, college advising, and etc. The example I gave with Huey Newton was about the miseducation madness running amok in black communities.

            The lack of empathy in your voice as educators when providing quality education for minority students.
            I know TRAVON MARTIN could have been prevented if this young man was schooled on the racist society we live in. The Racism is even in the black professional class when a black doctor from UCLA is hazed (Adult Black Man) and called “gorilla,” graduating students from McDonald’s brand high schools should be a SIN this will not make them competitive in a global market with white students.

            Graduation is not enough we need make these students become entrepreneurs, and bring back the trade programs in the high schools because to many black students are in $60,000 in debt in loans at HBCUs and PWIs with no career. I tell you both go on YOUTUBE TYPE IN DR. OMAR JOHNSON on the miseeducation machine.

            I notice my comment was deleted, but hear me out their are 5 stages of life for blacks.

            1.) *Miseducation
            2.) *Frustration
            3.) *Behavior Modification
            4.) *Incarceration (Prison Industrial Complex)
            5.) *Termination

          • Creole,

            I do understand those elements as well. The bigger picture however is part of the challenge for students that are not receiving a college ready educational experience, especially in secondary school. If you read Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities and/or Shame of a Nation, you can understand that miseducation and inequality has also a great deal to do with inadequate funding of schools, which is a national problem. Is racism the culprit here? Could be, but if that is the case, there should be an outcry at the grassroots level, which in some cases there is, regarding these inequities. The other issue that John Ogbu pointed in his qualitative work is something to be examined as well and that is the responsibility of parents to do their part in not only instilling the importance of education in their children, but to serve as examples by being advocates for their children.

        • Actually, study after study finds that whether a school has many or few resources has little impact on whether or not a child is ready for college; rather, it is the socioeconomic condition of the household that determines this. We blacks who, even in low-income neighborhoods, find the money for hair weaves (not only for mothers and daughters but fathers and sons) and Timberland boots can no longer use poorly-funded schools as an excuse for our children being underprepared for college. It’s a family affair–and the sooner we face this fact and deal with it, the better!

          • Deborah,

            It is important that the family, whomever that may be, does play a constructive role in a child’s life and their value of education and striving for excellence. There is no argument or disagreement regarding that point. The question becomes whether the educational system can make a difference if the family support is lacking. Can schools provide an environment where learing is valued among students even if it is not at home. There are success stories about children and young people in general, where they have overcome their adverse circumstances at home and have excelled and gone on to be successful in higher education and beyond. Unfortunately, the exceptions are not the rule because of the inequities of educational programs and systems across the country. It is important to remember that in many cases you can’t change a child’s home environment, but you can change their educational environment.

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