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Media Advisory

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
3003 N. Charles Street, Suite 100
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-3843
Phone: (410) 516-7160 | Fax (410) 516-5251

October 24, 2000
CONTACT: Leslie Rice

Experts in Education of Poor and
Minority Adolescents at Hopkins

Johns Hopkins University contributors to Schooling Students Placed at Risk: Research, Policy and Practice in the Education of Poor and Minority Adolescents are available to talk about what affects academic achievement among poor, minority students in middle and high schools. The book, published last month by Lawrence Erblaum Associates Publishers, is edited by Johns Hopkins education researcher and professor Mavis Sanders. Many of the book's contributors are from the Johns Hopkins Center for Social Organization of Schools.

Among the issues addressed by Hopkins contributors:

Mavis Sanders and Will Jordan
Student-teacher relations and academic achievement
These researchers find consistent evidence that teacher-student relations have a significant positive influence on adolescents' success in school, measured by school conduct, classroom preparation and avoidance of behaviors that threaten academic progress. Their research also looks at the importance of a sustained teacher-student relationship as students move from one grade to the next.

Robert Balfanz
Why do so many urban public school students demonstrate poor academic achievement?
Balfanz contends that both the location of a school within a particular district and state and its history shape its students' learning opportunities in many known and unknown ways. He argues that researchers and policy makers need to pay greater attention to the environments that create weak and dysfunctional learning institutions. They cannot focus solely on the characteristics of the school by itself or its individual students when working to improve student outcomes.

Will Jordan and Stephen Plank
Talent loss: why so many high-achieving poor students never enroll in college
Plank and Jordan wanted to learn why so many of the country's top-achieving low-income students never go to college. They discovered that a primary reason why these students don't enroll in four-year colleges, despite their academic track records, is that they and their parents did not plan for college well. These students didn't take SAT's when they should have or the sorts of courses that appeal to college admission offices. Many also assumed they could not afford college and therefore never applied. The study underscores the need for school administrators, faculty, counselors and parents to work together to provide pre-college information, support and guidance to urban adolescents. Such action is needed to enhance the efforts of overburdened guidance counselors. Typically in low-income urban schools, one guidance counselor serves about 400 students.

Mavis Sanders and Jerald Herting (University of Washington)
Gender and the effects of school, family and church on the academic achievement of African-American urban adolescents
The authors find evidence that African-American male adolescents are less likely than their female counterparts to report high levels of teacher and family support or church involvement. African-American males also report lower academic self-esteem and achievement ideologies, higher levels of school misconduct and lower grades. The authors discuss ways that schools, families and communities can work together to provide academic and social support to African-American adolescents, especially African-American males, so that these students develop the skills, attitudes and behaviors essential for school success.

Robert Cooper and Amanda Datnow
African-American student success in private schools
Cooper and Datnow use interview and observational data to show factors that influence whether elite, private schools create climates that promote the success of their low-income African-American students, as measured by college enrollment. The authors show that to overcome the academic, social and psychological challenges they face when entering such schools, these students need a strong network of support. They argue that changes in school culture are necessary to ensure that elite independent schools are responsive to cultural diversity. Cooper and Datnow found that although many of these schools make symbolic commitments to racial diversity, they vary in the degree to which they incorporate these changes. The researchers attempt to illuminate the structures and cultures of elite, private schools and suggest ways in which such schools can promote the success of African-American students.

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