academic achievement gaps, Black students disadvantaged, Loveless study, National, News, quality of education, Racial disparities in education, socioeconomic gap in education, student motivation, student motivation index -

New Study Questions the Importance of Student Motivation When Trying to Close Achievement Gaps

academic achievement gaps, Black students disadvantaged, Loveless study, National, News, quality of education, Racial disparities in education, socioeconomic gap in education, student motivation, student motivation index -

New Study Questions the Importance of Student Motivation When Trying to Close Achievement Gaps

student motivation For years, the general consensus was that student motivation and academic achievement were directly correlated, but a new study suggests that the two may not actually be as closely linked as people tend to believe.

According to Tom Loveless, a Brookings scholar who recently conducted a study to see if student motivation really mattered, getting kids interested in education may not actually result in improving test scores.

When reports indicate that a certain group is not performing well in the classroom, one of the most immediate responses is to find a way to make that group more interested in learning and motivated in the classroom.

Programs have been launched to boost young boys’ interest in reading and groups have long fought to get students in poorer countries to have more engagement in the classroom.

Surprisingly enough, the opposite was found to be true.

Loveless’ study found that countries with the most impressive test scores, like Korea, Japan and Poland, actually rank much lower when it comes to student engagement when compared to other countries.

Meanwhile, countries that saw a drastic increase in student motivation simultaneously saw a sharp decline in math scores.

It’s a trend that is leaving many educators, students and parents scratching their heads.

With young boys often getting lower scores in school than their female counterparts, there has been a lot of effort to get boys more interested in things like reading.

Loveless says this could very well be a waste of time.

Not only does boosting their interest in reading not assure that they will become more proficient in the subject, but even without such efforts test scores for men and women tend to level out by the time they reach adulthood, Loveless notes.

So while the gap between boys and girls in school may not be something to worry about, the gap between wealthy students and ones from low-income families is much more substantial and concerning.

“Looking at it by racial identity and socioeconomic status, the differences are just much greater by those categories,” said Christianne Corbet, a senior researcher at the American Association of University Women, according to The Atlantic.

One form of the National Assessment for Educational Progress measures the academic performance of certain groups over time. This version of the test found that students who qualify for a federal lunch subsidy because of their economic status lag behind their more affluent counterparts by 28 points.

academic achievement gap Black and white students typically have a 23-point gap on average between their test sores.

The study’s results are a reminder that while getting students interested in education is always a good thing, it may not be the actual cause of the racial and socioeconomic academic achievement gaps that are plaguing classrooms all across the globe.

“It’s just fascinating—countries that do very well on PISA in mathematics, countries like Finland, Korea, Japan and Netherlands, they score terribly on this motivation index,” Loveless said, according to The Atlantic. “Kids don’t look intrinsically motivated at all.”

Loveless also noted that students of a lower socioeconomic status may have higher motivation indexes because they tend to be “deeply appreciative of having an opportunity that their parents never had.”

Appreciating that opportunity, however, has nothing to do with whether or not they will receive the type of high-quality education with seasoned teachers and new age technologies that their wealthier counterparts in more economically sound countries tend to enjoy.

It’s also important to note that these differences were only true when comparing different countries to one another.

When it came to analyzing students within the same border, the expected correlation between student motivation and grade scores tended to be true.

Within the U.S., students who were reportedly more motivated and engaged outperformed students who reported being less motivated in the classroom.


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