Achiever in Training


Focus on Achievement-#7 in a Series of Discussions

By Joan E. Gosier, CEO of HBCU kidz, Inc.

Definition of GAP [a problem caused by some disparity] Pronunciation: \gap\ Function: noun


Science +Math +Artifacts of Culture +Reading +Test Taking Tips (S.M.A.R.T)=Gap Closure

For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?             I Peter 4:17

Well, this month’s discussion took me a little longer to produce because it marks the beginning of a transition period. Up until now, we have covered a variety of academic achievement factors and shared a few creative ideas on what can be done at home to give our munchkins a better jump start in life. In fact, this month we hosted another successful a parent-2-parent conference call during which we all shared our joys, trials and home grown solutions to change the game for the future of our munchkins. It was a valuable and powerful hour. So I want to publicly thank all of the parents who participated and to dedicate this month’s article to the results and follow up from that inspiring conversation.

Did you know that there is a 15% gap in taking advanced level math classes between black and white students? Source: US Department of Education NCES Status and Trends in the Education of Blacks pg. 56

On our call we asked what could be some of the drivers behind this achievement gap and more importantly how do we prevent the problem in the first place?

Here is the summary of concepts of what we discussed. Source:

What can be done to address the achievement gap? Prevention! says that “children entering kindergarten with elementary math and reading skills are the most likely to do well in school later, even if they have various social and emotional problems, say researchers who examined data from six studies of close to 36,000 preschoolers. We find the single most important factor in predicting later academic achievement is that children begin school with a mastery of early math and literacy concepts,” said Northwestern University researcher Greg Duncan and the study’s primary author. Attention-related skills, though more modestly, also consistently predict achievement.


According to “Playing numerical board games can improve low-income preschoolers’ number skills, offering a promising way to reduce the discrepancies in numerical knowledge between children from poor families and those from middle-income families. Children vary greatly in the math knowledge they bring to school, with children from poor families tending to have far less math knowledge than their peers from middle-class families. These differences appear to have large and long-term consequences, with proficiency in math at the start of kindergarten strongly predictive of math achievement test scores years later. The gap in math knowledge likely reflects differences in exposure at home to informal numerical activities, including numerical board games. Board games with consecutively numbered, linearly arranged spaces–think Chutes and Ladders–provide children with good opportunities to learn about the relation between numerals and their sizes. Would providing low-income preschoolers with experience playing numerical board games improve their understanding of numbers?

All of the gains remained nine weeks after the experience, and were comparable for African American and White children.”


Another article from says “Children from low-income families in the United States do not have the same access to qualified teachers as do wealthier students, according to a University of Missouri study.” When students are not taught by highly qualified teachers, their opportunity to learn is considerably lower,” said Motoko Akiba, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy analysis in the College of Education at MU. “Previous studies have shown that students with similar backgrounds achieve significantly higher when taught by highly-qualified teachers.”


What steps have we personally taken to address the achievement gap at home?

  1. Determine at home is there a love for numbers and quantifying facts and figures
  2. Determine at home what impact this has on him or her being able to enjoy learning
  3. Determine at home what information God has placed in your heart to teach a child
  4. Determine how your child feels about using numbers, charts, graphs and placement orders (first/second/third).
  5. Determine how others who are consistently around your child feel about the above ideas/options

We go over each of my munchkin’s little kindergarten worksheet assignments done in school to cover areas or questions that she might not have understood in class. My oldest munchkin tells me that right now in kindergarten math is her favorite subject, then taking tests and finally P.E. I feed this interest every opportunity I get. A simple trip to the dollar store had me leaving with 2 giant laminated wall charts on workbook and impressively she can almost do most of the double digit math addition and subtraction problems with very little assistance! And just recently, we invested in a toddler Monopoly game that both my 4 and 5 year old munchkins absolutely love! They are introduced to basic concepts such as collecting rent, acquiring property, building a house, counting money, and keeping record of what you own. It gives my husband and I a great way to play together and teach at the same time.

Helpful Tips to Prevent or Close the Achievement Gap at home

1) Determine the highest level of math offered in school and explore your personal feelings about math. Schedule a meeting face to face with the guidance counselor. Make sure that your potential personal lack of interest is not getting in the way of pushing the system to accelerate the progress of your child.

2) Compare the potential opportunities to build confidence in using numbers, charts, graphs and placement orders. Start with where they are not where they should be and build from there. I recently met a 7th grader who still could not add nor subtract in his head yet his teacher had him working on algebra equations!

3) Call the kids in your immediate and extended family to see what their favorite topics and stories to read. ” Anthony, what is 5-2 or 2+7?” is a fun drill that I love to pop up on little munchkins. It keeps them sharp, on their toes and is often a timely distraction to keep their brains occupied away from mischief.

4) Listen to see if there is a pattern of interest that can be enhanced with more practice. Whenever I see my munchkins having fun counting, I join right in and do not correct but I listen to where there are problems. Then I later search for products that will help them fix the problem such as flash cards, wall charts or even board games.

5) Visit sites such as and find a gift that will inspire a love of reading and exploring the world. Good resource books on math at home should be readily available regardless of what the qualifications or experience level of the teacher. “1+1=2 all day long!”

So basically at the conclusion of our second “Parent 2 Parent” conference call we all agreed that it was good to know that there are other concerned parents who are only a phone call away and that were willing to openly share ideas and hear concerns.

We can hardly wait for the next one scheduled on July 30 8:00 p.m.-9:30 p.m. EST!

Our upcoming discussions will begin to address some of the family economic pressures that seem to directly impact the academic achievement of our children.

Visit sites such as and and find a gift that will inspire a love of reading. Every child deserves a special gift that reflects your hope for their future.

This series is intended to be a work in progress. What I am doing as an individual, and what others are doing as well. Together we can learn some new things and reinforce some things we already knew. What do you think? Can we work together?

The Achiever in Training and S.M.A.R.T curriculum are exclusive copywritten and proprietary programs developed by HBCU kidz, Inc.

For more statistics and academic resources please visit and click on “Educate.” To comment on this article, visit the Blog. To communicate with other concerned Black parents, please visit

For more information about the program or the limited edition gift collection, visit The site contains information and ideas to proactively promote positive images for African American children and their families. Contact Joan Gosier at 1-888-HBCU-kid.


Joan E. Gosier





Filed under Focus on Achievement

4 responses to “FOCUS IN ACHIEVEMENT-#7 IN A SERIES OF DISCUSSIONS-Entry for May 18, 2008

  1. Anonymous

    Leslie Minatee Daniels on May 31, 2008 at 2:29pm

    As always Joan, you are right on point! I see sooo many of our kids coming into school already at a disadvantage. It’s unfortunate but the reality is that for a large number of AA students, their first encounter with education is when they enter Kindergarten. Which by the way is not mandatory in NJ, so some kids never even go to school until 1st grade! They have missed out on 6-7 years of necessary skill development that will assist them to be successful students. That’s why this forum is so vital.
    To add to your list of tips; contact the school in which your child will attend and find out the name and contact information of the math curriculum taught at the school. Ask to borrow a textbook for a short period of time. Go thru the textbook and see what is going to be taught at that grade level. Be sure your child has the background knowledge and skill set needed to be able to master the concepts that will be learned. For example: If addition is going to be introduced, be sure your child understands that when you add, you get more, not less. The same with subtraction. When you subtract, you get less, not more. Everyday household objects like pennies, buttons, macaroni, marshmellows, anything that can be grouped together can be used as counters. Practice counting out a group of 5 and a group of 2 (5+2) and then count them altogether and come up with a sum. (7) You can create a number sentence simply by drawing an addition sign, a subtraction sign, and an equal sign on pieces of paper and inserting them where applicable in your grouping. After making the math sentence, show it to your child in number form (ie: a flash card) and help them make the correlation that the two examples represent the same thing. Remember, most young kids learn best by doing, not seeing, so the kinethestic aspect is key. Flash cards can be made by using pieces of paper cut into shapes, index cards; colored or white (my favorite),or pieces of construction paper. Make them fancy by using decorative edged scissors or cut them into shapes. You can then use them as way to teach shapes too! All can be found at your local dollar store or around the house. Look for the teacher’s aisle and see what catches your eye.
    It is also important to use the correct vocabulary for math. Word problems are particularly challenging for our students of color because they are unfamiliar with math words. Use terms such as “How many do you have all together?” (addition), “How many more do you have than Sue?” (subtraction), “How many do you have in all?”, (addition) Use these terms everytime you discuss math and your child will soon begin using them too. These simple things will assist your child tremendously in closing the math gap.
    –Leslie Minatee Daniels


  2. Anonymous

    Yesterday, I had a PROUD MOMMA moment. My kindergartener that I referenced in the article came home with the results of her SPRING PAL. This is a Virginia Statewide Assessment that determines if a child is ready for 1st grade. The passing score is 81. The maximum score is 102. My little munchkin brought home a score of 101. It was such a treat to explain to her because she had NO IDEA how well she tested. It was such an esteem booster for her too! She later told us some of the positive traits that she has “I am good at finding things, I am good at math, I am a fast runner, etc,” If I could bottle up that confidence and put it on a shelf for her when she hits those “meanaged years”-WOW! So I did the next best thing. Put all of her kindergarten work in a big blue folder for us to later organize and sort through this summer when we prepare her conquering 1st Grade! We are so proud of her. Today also marks our 8th wedding anniversary so we can add a special toast to the occasion-LOL!

    Tomeara’s Proud Mommy
    –Joan Gosier


  3. Anonymous

    Thanks for your feedback. I would be REMISS if I did not give full credit to the generous parents who shared on our conference call. I learned so much listening to peers AND ELDERS on the call.

    I just wanted to pay if forward by sharing the information with the rest of the world-LOL!



  4. Anonymous

    Male, 38, Chicago, IL

    This is ACTIVE/PROACTIVE parenting…..
    This info is PRICELESS…


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