That old song, "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" is taking on new meaning. Research out of Stanford highlights the effects of connecting with a student's values. Specifically: "Seventh graders were asked to reflect and write about things most important to them –– their relationships with friends or family, or their personal interests. The task was given at critical moments: the beginning of the school year, prior to tests, and near the holiday season, a period of stress for many people with challenging home environments. The results were dramatic: The intervention reduced the racial achievement gap by nearly 30%."
The key was reducing the sense of threat that many students of color and even women in male-dominated fields feel. More evidence, it seems to me, that until we address the emotional health of students, we can't hope to bridge the education and achievement gap.