At-risk students improve when they take a race and ethnicity class – study

January 14, 2016

Stanford researchers concluded that ‘culturally relevant’ teaching is an important part of the education of students who could flunk or might drop out

High school students saw large improvements in their grades and attendance records when they enrolled in a class dedicated to exploring race and ethnicity, researchers in California found.

The Stanford University study analyzed a pilot program of ethnic studies classes at three San Francisco high schools and found that, on average, at-risk ninth-graders encouraged to enroll in the course performed significantly better than their peers who didn’t.

Student attendance increased by 21%, while grade-point averages surged nearly a grade and a half for those enrolled in the class – striking results, according to the researchers.

“I was surprised that this particular course could have such dramatic effects on the academic outcomes of at-risk kids,” said Thomas S Dee, a professor at Stanford who co-authored the study with postdoctoral researcher Emily Penner. “If I was reading a newspaper with results like this, I would read it with incredulity, [but] the results were very robust.”


CEPA Publications