Running head: KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT

Key Signature Assignment Closing The Achievement Gap

Eric Nunez

Azusa Pacific University

EDUC 504

Dr. Ann Bradley

June 1, 2015
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 2

Abstract

Background: Paloma Valley High School (PVHS) and Perris High School (PHS)

are both part of the Perris Union High School District (PUHSD) in California.

These high schools are approximately twelve miles apart from each other.

Several Academic disparities exist between PVHS and PHS. Year after year

PVHS scores higher in standardized test than, PHS. Aim: The aim of this

research is to provide educators with information in how to close the

achievement gap and end one of educations most widely discussed issues.

Significant differences exist between the test scores of minority and/or low-

income students and the test scores of their White peers. Results: Data from the

California Department of Education (CDE) shows that PHS houses more

socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority students than, PVHS. The

number of advanced placement courses offered by these two high schools

suggests that minority students are not being academically challenged.

Conclusion: Policymakers and educators need to address matters that are

clearly unjust and can be immediately corrected. This research provides an

action plan to close the achievement gap.
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 3

Introduction

Standardized test score disparities among ethnic and racial groups are

one of the most widely discussed issues in contemporary education. Hispanic

and black students commonly fall far behind their white peers in reference to test

scores. National Education Association (2015) defines achievement gap as, “The

differences between the test scores of minority and/or low-income students and

the test scores of their White and Asian peers.” The No Child Left Behind Act

(NCLB) passed in 2001, highlights disparities endured by minority groups

because it implements testing to measure student achievement and a school’s

effectiveness. This research analyzes Perris High School (PHS) and Paloma

Valley High School (PVHS), which are both, within the Perris Union High School

District (PUHSD) that reflect test score disparities among ethnic/racial groups

and recommends an action plan for remedying the gap.

State and federal government have recognized that the United States

cannot improve student achievement without closing the achievement gap. The

NCLB Act was announced by George W. Bush in January 2001 and was signed

into law on January 2002. NCLB grew because of concern that the American

education system was not competitive internationally and American students

were trailing behind on international test for reading and math. Therefore, federal

involvement in education had to increase its role in holding schools responsible

for the academic progress of all students. NCLB Act reauthorized the Elementary
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 4

and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which, was part of President Lyndon B.

Johnson’s Great Society program that passed in 1965.

ESEA defined the role of the federal government in K-12 schools by

providing funding for disadvantaged school districts, known as Title I. NCLB aims

to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their peers

by investing Title I funds more effectively and with greater accountability.

President George W. Bush (2001) expressed that, “As America enters the 21st

Century full of hope and promise, too many of our neediest students are being

left behind.” NCLB changed laws by requiring states, school districts, and

schools receiving Title I funds met high standards by having “clear” and

“measurable goals” on essential knowledge and basic skills (Bush, 2001).

Under NCLB schools are measured by adequate yearly progress (AYP) to

ensure annual goals are met. NCLB requires annual state assessments in math

and reading in grades 3-8, ensuring goals are met for every child on an annual

basis. Annual testing in every grade gives teachers, parents, and policymakers

the data needed to ensure children succeed in respects to academics.

Schools that fail to achieve annual targets (AYP) and fail to progress would be

subject to sanctions. States can choose to shut down schools that continuously

fail to achieve AYP, turn them into charter schools, or use other “turnaround

strategies” (Bush, 2001).

NCLB has resulted in some benefits because test scores and student

learning expectations have increased in some states. However, at the same time

NCLB has highlighted the fact that many Black and Hispanic students are still
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 5

performing far below expectations. Nancy Kober (2001) states, “Unless progress

is made in closing the gap, Black and Hispanic students could be

disproportionately harmed by requirements that link test scores to promotions or

graduations.” Closing the gap requires more than setting standards, giving tests,

and identifying schools that did not reach AYP. Policymakers and educators have

to design and implement action plans that serve the needs of all students.

Black and Hispanic students represent a significant percent of the student

population and therefore, we cannot improve education if the achievement gap is

not closed. Nancy Kober (2001) asserts, “Achievement gaps not only have a

lifelong impact on the Black and Hispanic students affected directly, but also

implications for the broader society. Students with lower-achievement are more

likely to drop out of high school and less likely to attend college than higher-

achieving students.” When lower-achieving students step out of academic walls

and enter the work force they make less money. Our economy and society

depends on improving the achievement of Black and Hispanic students.

Numerous factors exist for why there are ethnic/racial achievement gaps.

Studies have identified factors in the school environment of many minority

children that could affect the achievement gap. Kober (2001) suggest that, “The

academic rigor of courses taken in middle school and high school not only affects

students’ current achievement, but also is the single most important predictor of

college success.” Students who complete courses like calculus, physics, and

higher-level English tend to have higher test scores. Minority students are “also

more likely to attend schools that do not offer higher-level courses or AP classes”
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 6

(Kober, 2001). When more advanced courses are offered, access to Hispanic

and Black students may be impeded because “they were tracked into a less

academically challenging curriculum or did not take gateway courses like

algebra” (Kober, 2001). It can be argued that instructors are not challenging

Black and Hispanic students. As a result, teachers are not motivating Hispanic

and Black students because they underestimate their academic potential.

Researchers have found that some schools with high poverty or high minority

students provide “watered-down curriculum,” meaning that teachers give less

homework and cover less material (Kober, 2001).

Family income does not fully explain the achievement gap but, there is a

strong correlation between poverty and low-achievement. Children from low-

income homes tend to have parents with lower levels of education. Black and

Hispanic students may have limited access to learning experiences in the home

due to poverty. Key home factors include, “Parent work schedules, access to

educational material in the home, and the primary language spoken in the home”

(Kober, 2001). Furthermore, Kober (2001) asserts that, “Children from low-

income families are more likely to experience problems of health, nutrition, low-

birth weight, housing, violence, substance abuse, and other factors that depress

achievement.” Therefore, a student’s achievement gap could be caused by their

parent’s education level, family wealth, and perception of own self-efficacy. If

standardized test and AYP could better measure these factors, perhaps we could

have a better explanation of the achievement gap.
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 7

Methods

Research was conducted by using databases to retrieve School

Accountability Report Cards (SARC) and peer reviewed articles pertaining to

closing the achievement gap for minority students. The California Department of

Education was used to retrieve SARC, Accountability Reports, and School

Quality Snapshots. PHS and PVHS scorecards and accountability reports were

retrieved for the 2010-2014 academic years. The databases used to obtain peer

reviewed articles were the Azusa Pacific University Library and Google Scholar.

To find relevant articles to the subject matter numerous keywords were used as

inputs: “achievement gap”, “Hispanic”, “Black”, “poverty”, “social economic

status”, and “disparity”.

Results

Figure 1: Paloma Valley High School student enrollment by grade level for the
2013-14 academic year.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 2: Paloma Valley High School student enrollment by ethnic/racial group
for 2013-14 academic year.
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 8

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 3: Paloma Valley High School CAASPP results for all students. Three-
year comparison, 2011-14 academic year.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 4: Paloma Valley High School CAASPP results by student group for
2013-14 academic year.
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 9

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 5: Paloma Valley High School STAR Results for all students. Three-year
comparison, 2010-13 academic year.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785
.
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 10

Figure 6: Paloma Valley High School Academic Performance Index (API) rank.
Three year comparison, 2010-13.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 7: Paloma Valley High School CAHSEE results for all students. Three
year comparison, 2011-14.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 8: Paloma Valley High School 2013-14 advanced placement courses.
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 11

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 9: Perris High School student enrollment by grade level for the 2013-14
academic year.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 12

Figure 10: Perris High School student enrollment by ethnic/racial group for 2013-
14 academic year.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 11: Perris High School CAASPP results for all students. Three-year
comparison, 2011-14 academic year.

S

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 13

Figure 12: Perris High School CAASPP results by student group for 2013-14
academic year.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 13: Perris High School STAR Results for all students. Three-year
comparison, 2010-13 academic year.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 14

Figure 14: Perris High School Academic Performance Index (API) rank. Three
year comparison, 2010-13.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 15: Perris High School CAHSEE results for all students. Three year
comparison, 2011-14.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 15

Figure 16: Perris High School 2013-14 advanced placement courses.

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785

Figure 17: Paloma High School and Perris High School Completion of High
School Graduation Requirements.

Paloma Valley High School

Completion of High School Graduation Requirements

Graduating Class of 2013
Group
School District State

All Students 87.64 85.54 84.56

Black or African American 84.62 83.00 75.90

American Indian or Alaska 
100.00 92.31 77.82
Native

Asian­­­­­­­ 90.48 88.10 92.94

Filipino­­­­­­­ 95.00 94.59 92.20
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 16

Hispanic or Latino 85.47 84.00 80.83

Native Hawaiian/Pacific 
75.00 76.92 84.06
Islander

White­­­­­­­ 90.00 90.06 90.15

Two or More Races 85.71 92.31 89.03

Socioeconomically 
91.88 84.99 82.58
Disadvantaged

English Learners 30.77 47.48 53.68

50.00
Students with Disabilities 49.21 60.31

Perris High School

Completion of High School Graduation Requirements

Graduating Class of 2013
Group
School District State

All Students 77.34 85.54 84.56

Black or African American 77.78 83.00 75.90

American Indian or Alaska 
0.00 92.31 77.82
Native

Asian­­­­­­­ 57.14 88.10 92.94

Filipino­­­­­­­ 100.00 94.59 92.20
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 17

Hispanic or Latino 77.34 84.00 80.83

Native Hawaiian/Pacific 
83.33 76.92 84.06
Islander

White­­­­­­­ 78.57 90.06 90.15

Two or More Races 100.00 92.31 89.03

Socioeconomically 
77.22 84.99 82.58
Disadvantaged

English Learners 39.81 47.48 53.68

Students with Disabilities 44.44 49.21 60.31

Note. Data from California Department of Education (2015), [PDF Document], Retrieved from
https://puhsd.haikulearning.com/puhsd/assessment1/cms_page/view/8127785
Year Comparison 
Discussion

The California Department of Education Scorecard (Fig.1 and 9) for the

2013-14 academic year show that PVHS had a total student enrollment of 2,735

and PHS had a total enrollment of 2,431 students. PVHS student population was

ethnically/racially composed of 49.7% Hispanic, 4.6% Black, 33.4% White, and

12.3% as other (Fig.2). PHS student population was ethnically/racially composed

of 85.4% Hispanic, 9.1% Black, 3.1% White, and 2.4% as other (Fig.10). The

data demonstrates that PHS had a higher concentration of Hispanic and Black

students for the 2013-14 academic year than, PVHS. Furthermore, for the 2013-

14 PVHS scorecard demonstrate that 51.6% of its students were

socioeconomically disadvantaged (Fig.2). In addition, the 2013-14 PHS
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 18

scorecard demonstrates that 90.6% of its students were socioeconomically

disadvantaged (Fig.10). It is evident that PHS houses more socioeconomically

disadvantaged and minority students than, PVHS.

In respects to science test scores, the California Assessment of Student

Performance and Progress (CAASPP) was used to measure PVHS and PHS

students for the 2013-14 school year. The percent of PVHS students that scored

proficient or advanced on the CAASPP was 55% in the 2013-14 academic year

(Fig.3). The percent of students that scored proficient or advanced by

ethnic/racial group were Hispanic 50%, Black 47%, and White 61% (Fig.4). The

percent of PHS students that scored proficient or advanced on the CAASPP was

28% in the 2013-14 year (Fig.11). The percent of students scoring at proficient or

advance by ethnic/racial group were 27% Hispanic, 22% Black, and White 53%

(Fig.12). Furthermore, the percent of Black and Hispanic students scoring

proficient or advanced at PVHS were significantly higher than, PHS students. It

can be argued that there is minimal CAASPP test score change (-8%) between

scores of White students at PVHS and PHS.

California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) 2012-13 year

results for all students in ELA, math, and HSS were analyzed for both schools.

The percent of PVHS students scoring proficient or advanced were 57% in ELA,

29% in math, and 53% in HSS (Fig.5). In comparison, the percent of PHS

students scoring proficient or advanced were 38% in ELA, 9% in math, and 29%

in HSS (Fig.13). In addition, California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) 2012-

13 year results for all students in English and math were analyzed for both
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 19

schools. The percent of PVHS students scoring proficient or advanced were 61%

in English and 59% in math (Fig.7). Contrary, the percent of PHS students

scoring proficient or advanced were 41% in English and 43% in math (Fig.15).

The data demonstrates that more PVHS students are meeting or exceeding the

California subject standards in comparison to, PHS students. It can be argued

that these test scores reflect a disparity because PHS is composed of more

Black and Hispanic students than, PVHS.

Challenging student coursework or advanced placement (AP) classes for

the 2013-14 school year both PVHS and PHS was analyzed. PVHS offered its

students a total of 43 AP classes: 8 English, 2 foreign languages, 8 math, 6

science, and 19 social sciences (Fig.8). PHS offered its students a total of 27 AP

classes: 7 English, 2 foreign languages, 6 math, 1 science, and 11 social

sciences (Fig.16). Furthermore, the percent of students in AP classes for PVHS

was 80% and PHS was 30% (Fig.8 and 16). The research suggest that Black

and Hispanic students are not being challenged the same as their White peers.

PHS is contributing to the achievement gap because it is failing to encourage

minority students to aim higher and failing to challenge minority students.

Figure 17 demonstrates that both high schools had a higher percentage of

White students graduate in comparison to, Black and Hispanic students. PVHS

graduated 87.64% of all of its students in 2013. The PVHS 2013 graduating class

was ethnically/racially composed of 90% White, 85.47% Hispanic, and 84.62%

Black students (Fig.17). PHS graduated 77.34% of all of its students in 2013. The

PHS 2013 graduating class was ethnically/racially composed of 78.57% White,
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 20

77.34% Hispanic, and 77.78% Black students (Fig.17). In addition, PVHS had a

higher percentage of Black Hispanic and students graduate than, PHS.

California Academic Performance Index Cards measures the academic

performance and growth of schools on a variety of measures. The 2012-13

Academic Performance Index Card ranked PVHS 7 and PHS 2 statewide (Fig.6

and 14). PVHS and PHS did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress for the 2013-14

school year. Both, PVHS and PHS failed to have its student’s meet proficient

English-language arts and mathematics. However, PVHS and PHS students did

meet the participation rate for English-language arts and mathematics. More

importantly, it is significant to highlight the fact that PVHS students had higher

standardized test scores and higher graduations rates than, PHS. However, PHS

is ranked higher in academic index than, PVHS. It can be argued that AYP and

SARCs are poor measures of measuring schools effectiveness. It is evident that

PVHS students have a higher success rate in comparison to, PHS students.

Policymakers and educators have to develop more effective measures to close

the achievement gap rather than, highlighting disparities.

Conclusion

The differences between the test scores of minority students (PHS) and

the test scores of their White peers (PVHS) can be eliminated by implementing

an action plan. We need to address policies that are clearly unjust and can be

corrected immediately.

An action plan needs to be implemented to reduce minority group

concentration and isolation of socioeconomically disadvantaged students at
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 21

PVHS and PHS. These high schools have become re-segregated because the

majority of students at PHS are racial/ethnic minorities and are experiencing

poverty. PUHSD needs to equalize the distribution of racial/ethnic groups and

socioeconomically disadvantaged students by implementing affirmative action.

The district can give additional incentives (funds) to high schools that acquire a

set percent of students who have parents with low levels of education and/or

recruit incoming middle school students that average below a 2.5 GPA.

Therefore, this form of affirmative action is ethnic/race neutral and does not

discriminate students. However, it does highlight students who are experiences

disparities and need additional resources to overcome obstacles in receiving

equal education. High schools would be encouraged to go to surrounding

elementary and middle schools to recruit these students to their schools.

To close the achievement gap policymakers and schools need to

challenge all their students equally. PUHSD needs to eliminate all honor and

advanced placement classes. The district needs to develop and support an

inclusive curriculum that challenges all students equally. It could be argued that

honor classes represent student segregation. It is common practice for school

staff to recommend or track specific students to be more academically

challenged. These high schools are perpetuating inequality and contributing to

the achievement gap. It is unjust that experienced educators and more rigorous

curriculum are being solely dedicated to students defined as gifted and talented.

Honor and AP classes are not separate but, equal forms of curriculum. To close
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 22

the achievement gap all students need to have an equal opportunity to be

challenged and instructed by experienced staff.

Implementing more standardized test and highlighting disparities amongst

students will not close the achievement gap. Policymakers and educators need

to address matters that are clearly unjust and can be immediately corrected. It is

evident that Black and Hispanic students are attending re-segregated schools

and are not being academically challenged. It is our responsibility to provide all

students with equal and challenging coursework. Also, we must make it an effort

to diversify our schools and provide equal access to quality education. There are

numerous factors contributing to the achievement gap that have not been

studied. The achievement gap is complex and demands a greater focus on

schools, homes, and societal factors. More research needs to be conducted that

builds knowledge on these respected matters.
KEY SIGNATURE ASSIGNMENT CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP 23

References

Assessment and Accountability Reports 2013-2014 School Year . (n.d.). : Perris High

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http://www.puhsd.org/cms/lib6/CA01001144/Centricity/domain/46/documents/2013_Sch

ool_Accountability_Report_Card_Perris_High_School_20140131.pdf

Assessment and Accountability Reports 2013-2014 School Year . (n.d.). : Paloma Valley

High School: PUHSD Accountability And Data Reports. Retrieved May 05, 2015, from:

http://www.puhsd.org/cms/lib6/CA01001144/Centricity/Domain/214/20122013%20SA

C%20English.pdf

API Reports. (n.d.). - Academic Performance Index (CA Department of Education).

Retrieved May 06, 2015, from: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/apireports.asp

Beecher, M., & Sweeney, S. M. (2008). Closing the Achievement Gap With Curriculum
Enrichment and Differentiation One Schools Story [Electronic version]. Journal of
Advanced Academic, 19(3), 1-29

Bush, G. W. (2001). No Child Left Behind [Electronic version]. Department of
Education, 1-35.

Kober, N. (2001, April). It takes more than testing Closing the Achievement Gap

[Electronic version]. Center on Education Policy, 1-49.

Students Affected by Achievement Gaps (2015). In National Education Association .

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