Sade Bonilla, an assistant professor at the College of Education, conducted the long-term research with Thomas SD of the Stanford Graduate School of Education and Emily K. Penner of the University of California’s School of Education. Impact of the need for ethnic research that has recently been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of America.
In a school district in California, ninth-grade students with a grade-point average of 9th.0 or younger were automatically enrolled in an ethnic research course. Studies have shown that enrollment in ethnic studies has significantly increased the chances of high school graduates, attendance, and college admissions.
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Prior to this study, there was little causal evidence supporting the positive academic impact of ethnic studies. “A central contribution to our work is that anti-racist pedagogy and curriculum encourage engagement and perseverance in school,” Bonilla said.
The team studied the records of approximately 140,000 students in San Francisco, California, where the Board of Education approved in 2010 the need for ethnic studies for ninth-graders struggling academically. After their academic journeys through both local and state records, the team has noticed that the academic results of students enrolled in low-ethnic study courses and students of color have improved.
Students were also more likely to be admitted to college after graduating from high school, the team found.
The curriculum of ethnic studies, based on anti-racism policy, is designed as a rigorous, college-preparatory course that emphasizes culturally relevant and critically involved topics related to social justice, anti-racism, stereotypes, and contemporary social movements. In general, ethnic studies courses focus historically on the history of historically marginalized populations, increase students’ critical awareness of social issues, and encourage civic involvement and community-responsive social justice.
It helps students learn about different ethnic histories and the contributions of non-white ethnic groups. Proponents say it gives students a better idea of them and a sense of belonging to the larger American community.
“The current debate about critical racial theory is tragically dishonest and politically motivated,” Bonilla said. “There is an overlap between theory and ethnic studies in that the curriculum uses a critically aware and historically historical approach to past events and the system we have today.”
Although interest in anti-apartheid education has grown, it has been politically controversial, researchers say. Anti-apartheid curricula and teaching methods, they say, represent a way for schools to further develop a just society and improve the educational outcomes of low-income and caste students.
“Our results point to this approach as having a significant impact on students’ high school graduation and college admissions which is critically important due to the relevance of educational achievement on economic achievement and other socially relevant outcomes such as civic engagement and mental health, ”Bonilla said.
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