The Bridge Plan for Academic Validation: A Case Study at Central High School

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Title of Document: The Bridge Plan for Academic Validation: A Case Study at Central High School

Brein Bashore

Doctor of Philosophy, 2011

Directed By:Dr. Jing Lin, Department of Education Leadership,

Higher Education and International Education

University of Maryland, College Park

Across the nation, we continue to see an achievement gap between African American and Hispanic students and White and Asian students. This achievement gap is demonstrated by lower test scores among African American and Hispanic students as well as a lower number of these students graduating high school. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), as its name suggests, attempts to ensure that all students are able to achieve on standardized tests by 2014. However, under NCLB, what was required of students was left to the discretion of each individual state.

Maryland's testing requirements went into effect for students who began high school in 2005 or later. With thousands of students yet to meet these requirements at the start of their senior year (2008-2009 school year), Maryland decided to create an alternate pathway for students to meet these testing requirements. This program, called The Bridge Plan for Academic Validation, allows students who are unable to pass the High School Assessment exams to complete one or more projects in order to meet the state testing requirements.

Central High School is currently one of the worst performing high schools in New Town Public Schools in New Town, Maryland and has consistently been one of the schools with the greatest participation in the Bridge Plan in the state of Maryland. Throughout my research, I explored the following three questions. First, I wanted to better understand why The Bridge Plan for Academic Validation was developed as an alternative to statewide testing requirements. Second, I wanted to understand how Bridge was implemented at Central High School. Finally, I wanted to analyze the impact of Bridge on students, particularly at Central High School.

I conducted a qualitative case study using document analysis, interview and observation. I used political and symbolic frameworks, as well as a critical perspective to frame my research.

The findings from this study support the research on disparity in test scores among students as a result of differences in race, economic status, social capital and cultural capital.