We recognize that academic failure is not the fault of inherent deficits of character or intellect but of economic disparity; institutional marginalization; unequal distribution of educational resources; ineffectual pedagogical practices, expectations, and the mindset therein engendered.
High School Students in the U.S. who fail Algebra yearly
High School Graduates do not meet benchmark readiness for one or more college courses in math, science, or English
Of all remedial students are African American
Of students from low socio-economic families are one to-two grade levels behind their more affluent peers
4% / 5%
Black/ Hispanic students enrolled in Gifted and Talented Education
Despite decades of national attention, the education experienced by African American and other marginalized and low-income students in the United States remains largely separate and unequal. By virtually any resource measure – state and local dollars per pupil, student-teacher ratios, class size, teacher experience and qualifications, curriculum offerings – districts with greater proportions of poor and minority students receive significantly fewer educational resources than others. As a result, on standardized tests White students generally perform better than Black students, rich students generally perform better than poor students, and students of similar backgrounds perform dramatically differently across school districts and classrooms.
The Alexandria Academy Institute is a 501(3)c nonprofit educational organization. We develop innovative 6th through 8th grade STEM curricula to effectively “leapfrog” African American and other at-risk students beyond ineffectual traditional teaching methods and basic level instruction that put them at a disadvantage in the 21st century global economy. We have developed an Algebra 1 program that provides innovative and participatory methods which engages students by (1) helping them understand the “why” behind learning in real world terms, (2) exposing culturally-specific disesteeming myths that students may have about their own ability to tackle STEM curricula, and (3) providing culturally responsible rigorous science-based STEAM curricula. No one can say with certainty what skills will be necessary to for employment in the future, we equip students of color with problem solving, communication, and critical thinking skills and the mindset necessary to tackle STEM coursework and apply these skills as part of the 21st century workforce.
We address the deep inequality in educational opportunity and inadequate skills development experienced by marginalized and low-income students by leapfrogging them beyond requisite basic skills training. We teach them how to read texts critically, solve problems, work collaboratively across networks and cultures, communicate effectively, think critically, and adapt quickly – all marketable skills in the future global economy.
Culturally Responsible Curriculum
The widening racial achievement gap has been attributed to numerous sources. It is the cumulative effect of these factors, however, that presents the most debilitating barrier – marginalized students’ reluctance to fully “buy-into” education. There is efficacy in explaining the relevance of curriculum to marginalized students before they ask “Why bother?” or “What’s in it for me?” If we do not arm them with knowledge of education’s value proposition, no amount of technological innovation or data analysis will make a difference.
Research on “stereotype threat” suggests that achievement gaps may be partly due to stereotypes that impugn the math abilities of females and the intellectual abilities of Black, Hispanic, and low-income students. Pejorative stereotypes play an undermining role in the intellectual lives of African American and other marginalized students. These negative stereotypes, as Neil deGrasse Tyson states, “exact an emotional tax” that contributes to academic disengagement, alienation, and overall intellectual underperformance among stigmatized students.