Thesis for Social Justice Essay:

“Standardized testing aims to measure the progress of students, teachers and schools all around the country but in reality it ignores socioeconomic status and other environmental factors that can contribute to low scores– therefore the tests will continue to solidify the achievement gap between racial minorities and their majority counterpoints instead of reducing it.”


(1) Talbert-Johnson, C. (2004). Structural inequities and the achievement gap in urban schools. Education and Urban Society,37(1), 22-36. Retrieved from
If teachers represent a child’s most important asset, they also can be a child’s greatest liability, especially in states where a shortage of well-qualified teachers impedes the academic progress of African American students in learning contexts. The author asserts that a transformation in practices must occur in teacher education programs if these programs are to become places where preservice candidates learn to adopt pedagogies that are instrumental in the academic achievement of African American students in urban schools. A proposal for comprehensive, transformative approaches for achieving systemic change is warranted in the eradication of structural inequities that currently exist in urban schools.

(2) Hunter, R. C., & Bartee, R. (2003). The achievement gap: Issues of competition, class, and race. Education and Urban Society, 35(2), 151-160. Retrieved from
Asserts that closing the racial achievement gap does not necessarily require more competition and choice, but does require that educational objectives are clearly defined, practices adequately aligned, and evaluations based on long-term effectiveness. Highlights the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), discussing sociological and historical perspectives of competition, racial and nonracial effects of standardized testing, and implications of the achievement gap for the NCLB. (SM)

(3) English, F. W. (2002). On the intractability of the achievement gap in urban schools and the discursive practice of continuing racial discrimination. Education and Urban Society, 34(3), 298-311. Retrieved from
Achievement gaps between minority and white students may never be resolved because they are an artifact of a measurement process that uses flawed tests to assess student progress. IQ and achievement testing have always shown that socioeconomic status (SES) is critical in explaining test score variance. SES is part of the concept of cultural capital, which significantly predicts student success.

(4) Norman, O., Ault, C. R., Bentz, B., & Meskimen, L. (2001). The black-white “achievement gap” as a perennial challenge of urban science education: A sociocultural and historical overview with implications for research and practice. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(10), 1101-1114. Retrieved from
Explores how sociocultural factors involved in the manifestation and eventual disappearance of the gap for these groups may shed light on how to address the achievement gap for African American students in urban science education.

(5) Kang, J. S. E.Depth and breadth: Bridging the gap between scientific inquiry and high-stakes testing with diverse junior high school students. , 275-275. Retrieved from (1011398986; ED530266).
This study explored how inquiry-based teaching and learning processes occurred in two teachers’ diverse 8th grade Physical Science classrooms in a Program Improvement junior high school within the context of high-stakes standardized testing. Instructors for the courses examined included not only the two 8th grade science teachers, but also graduate fellows from a nearby university. Research was drawn from inquiry-based instruction in science education, the achievement gap, and the high stakes testing movement, as well as situated learning theory to understand how opportunities for inquiry were negotiated within the diverse classroom context. Transcripts of taped class sessions; student work samples; interviews of teachers and students; and scores from the California Standards Test in science were collected and analyzed. Findings indicated that the teachers provided structured inquiry in order to support their students in learning about forces and to prepare them for the standardized test. Teachers also supported students in generating evidence-based explanations, connecting inquiry-based investigations with content on forces, proficiently using science vocabulary, and connecting concepts about forces to their daily lives. Findings from classroom data revealed constraints to student learning: students’ limited language proficiency, peer counter culture, and limited time. Supports were evidenced as well: graduate fellows’ support during investigations, teachers’ guided questioning, standardized test preparation, literacy support, and home-school connections. There was no statistical difference in achievement on the Forces Unit test or science standardized test between classes with graduate fellows and without fellows. There was also no statistical difference in student performance between the two teachers’ classrooms, even though their teaching styles were very different. However, there was a strong correlation between students’ achievement on the chapter test and their achievement on the Forces portion of the CST. Students’ English language proficiency and socioeconomic status were also strongly correlated with their achievement on the standardized test. Notwithstanding the constraints of standardized testing, the teachers had students practice the heart of inquiry–to connect evidence with explanations and process with content. Engaging in inquiry-based instruction provided a context for students, even English language learners, to demonstrate their knowledge of forces. Students had stronger and more detailed ideas about concepts when they engaged in activities that were tightly connected to the concepts, as well as to their lives and experiences. The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC.