By Brooke Donald
New research shows gains in attendance and GPA of at-risk high school students from incorporating culturally relevant pedagogy.
A high school ethnic studies course examining the role of race, nationality and culture on identity and experience boosted attendance and academic performance of students at risk of dropping out, a new study by scholars at Stanford Graduate School of Education found.
The study looked at ethnic studies classes piloted in several San Francisco high schools and compared academic outcomes for students encouraged to enroll in the course with similar students who did not take it.
The researchers found that students not only made gains in attendance and grades, they also increased the number of course credits they earned to graduate.
"What's so unique about this program is the degree to which it helped the students who took it,” said Emily Penner, co-author of the paper and a post-doctoral researcher at the GSE. "Schools have tried a number of approaches to support struggling students, and few have been this effective. It’s a novel approach that suggests that making school relevant and engaging to struggling students can really pay off.”
Thomas Dee, a professor at the Stanford GSE and director at the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis, was the other author of the report, which was posted Jan. 11 as a working paper on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).