Weekend conference focuses on inequality
By ERIN LaRUFFA
Social scientists from around the country will explore the disparity in academic achievement between minority and white students at a conference in McKenna Hall on Saturday.
Notre Dame's Institute for Educational Initiatives will sponsor its third annual conference, entitled "The Black-White Achievement Gap."
"We started holding this annual conference to promote discussion among social scientists studying education, and particularly to increase discussion and collaboration among researchers in the Midwest," said Maureen Hallinan, professor and director of the institute's program on the social organization of schools, in a prepared statement.
Presenters from universities across the U.S. will discuss topics ranging from the quality of research on the achievement gap to grade retention. Conference participants will also explore standardized test scores and academic standards.
Professors from Notre Dame will lead discussion sessions following each presentation.
According to Sylvia Phillips, who works with Hallinan, the College Board recently reported a study that found a performance gap existing between black, Hispanic and Native American students and their white and Asian peers. The difference in academic performance exists across the socioeconomic spectrum and ranges from kindergarten to graduate school.
For example, at mainstream colleges and universities, minority students tend to earn significantly lower grades than white and Asian students. Additionally, minorities earned only 13 percent of America's B.A. degrees, 11 percent of professional degrees and six percent of the doctoral degrees.
The Institute for Educational Initiatives is sponsoring the conference as a way to promote discussion and encourage collaborative research among social scientists.
On Sunday, there will be a similar workshop for Notre Dame faculty and graduate students studying the sociology of education.
"With the number of people attending the conference this year, and the number of universities they are from, I'd say we have been quite successful," Hallinan said.
The Institute was established in 1997 to improve the education of all youth, particularly the disadvantaged. Researchers at the institute study the institutional aspect of schools as they affect and are affected by other American institutions.
The institute's program on the social organization of schools researches areas such as curriculum, teacher practices and student social relationships. The program especially focuses on Catholic schools and at-risk students.
All News Stories for Friday, November 5, 1999