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 Berkeley Pledge Special:

Diversity Project Examines Racial and Economic Links to Student Achievement

posted June 16, 1998

Four years ago, Pedro Noguera saw a PBS documentary on race relations at Berkeley High School – the city’s only public high school in one of the first voluntarily desegregated school districts in the United States.

What he saw disturbed him. It also spurred the UC Berkeley associate professor of education to undertake the “Diversity Project,” a Pledge program’s penetrating look into the causes of persistent racial and socio-economic disparities in student achievement.

“Nobody liked what they saw in that documentary” says Noguera, who also served on the Berkeley Unified School Board from 1990 to 1994. “But we have to face the fact that we have some major problems here and we have to address them. We have to take some action.”

Noguera and a team of graduate students, teachers, faculty, students, parents and administrators are tracking the performance and experiences of the Class of 2000 as its members move through four years of high school. Noguera hopes that the research will help explain why minority students – predominately Latino and African American – tend to perform poorly in school. He also hopes that the research will reveal solutions that can be used to make Berkeley High School the kind of place where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

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