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Improving the Test Scores

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Improving the test scores of eighth grade Science students through teacher training, literacy and hands on experience

Introduction

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Purpose

The study seeks to investigate the underlying reasons that contribute to poor academic performance in Science among eighth grade students in a school located in Bronx, New York. In addition, the role of teacher training in improving student performance in Science will be investigated. The role of student literacy in teaching and performance in Science will be investigated. Moreover, the use of Science experiments in improving student understanding and performance in Science will be investigated. Finally, the role of field trips in improving student performance in Science will be investigated.

The study will be conducted on a school in Bronx, New York. The community largely comprises of minority groups who are in the low income level. Crime is rife in the society and the schools record the highest student drop-out rates.  Moreover, student litercy is wanting and this affects general academic performance especially in Mathematics and Science.  The eighth grade class selected for the study  has a significant number of African Americans and Latin Americans.  For the past two years, the overall performance in Science has been poor.

Study participants will comprise of students, teachers and parents. Parents and guardians will be instrumental in finding out the environmental factors that may contribute to poor academic performance in Science. Teachers will also aid in citing problems that lead to poor student performance. Most important, the teachers will give an assessment of the proposed interventions in improving student performance. Prior and informed will be obtained from the participants during the recruitment process.

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Statement of the Problem

There is an alarming trend of poor performance in Science among students from minority groups. One of the affected regions is Bronx, New York. “Academically at-risk minority students, such as African Americans and Latino Americans, perform almost a standard deviation below Europeean American students on standardized intelligence tests. They also have lower grades than their European American and Asian American peers (Vaughns et al., 2009).”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) reports that the scores of Latino and African American students in Science were lower than those of white students by 39 to 52 points.  The most affected students are largely African Americans and Latinos from underprivileged families. The performance of Black students has been found to be lower than that of White students at all grade levels and the disparities are largest in Science and Mathematics (Tran, 2008). The study sample is appropriate as it is drawn from a school that has a large group of students from the two ethnic groups. Learning conditions, teaching approaches and teacher training have been cited as crucial factors that have led to dismal performance in Science.  Recommendations have been made on the need to adopt evidence based models in teaching to improve learner outcome. This study seeks to investigate the role of teacher training, literacy and a practical approach (hands on experience) in improving student performance in Science.

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