Grad Student Hip Hop CD Contributes to Improved Standardized Test Scores

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: July 10, 2006

Hip-hop – the music, the language and the culture – has made parents angry and upset and caused teachers a great deal of worry. Many people, ranging from government officials to state and local educators, have questioned its effect on the young and how they learn. Now a Texas A&M University doctoral student may have found a solution to the problem, and the solution is of the “if you can’t beat them, join them” variety.

When he was a classroom teacher, Ron Kelley, who is scheduled to receive his Ph.D. in educational administration from Texas A&M in August, wondered what listening to the music did to his students’ communication skills or their ability to pass required standardized tests. He continued to wonder as a school principal and as an adjunct professor at Houston Community College – and when he started a recording business.

He finally got a chance to research the question in Houston-area schools while doing his dissertation. Kelley said what he found was amazing but what he did about it is considered by some observers as even more amazing. What wasn’t surprising to Kelley was that hip-hop culture and language were highly influential to students’ overall demeanor, as well to their oral and writing skills. He also found that the students’ language comprehension in the area of hip-hop surpassed their usual ability, allowing then to perform at a higher level.

“Students are capable of memorizing every word of a rap song because of their extreme interest in rap music, therefore, when academic concepts are placed in rap form, you get a higher level of student achievement because it appeals so much to their interests and is just an overall ‘catchy’ way of learning,” he said.

However, knowing this and finding some practical way to apply it are two different things. Taking advantage of his recording company, Kelley landed on a way to provide real help for real teachers. He set some basic learning skills to rap rhythms with rhymes using hip-hop language and released “Edu-Rap, Volume 1,” an educational rap CD that covers all standardized test areas and puts the academic concepts into rap form.

“The CD has been a big hit all over the nation and has sold many copies. I now find myself traveling the country training teachers and doing motivational presentations for students, resulting in improved test scores by over 30 points at some schools,” he noted.

The San Antonio native is president and CEO of Konfident Enterprises, an educational music and consulting company, and he also works as a motivational speaker. As such, he said he knows the importance of using whatever it takes to motivate students to learn and be a success – something every teacher has as a goal.

“I believe my research has made a real contribution to education by providing educators with more information about hip-hop culture and ways to use it as an educational tool,” he said. For more information about Konfident Enterprises and its rap CD, e-mail Kelly at or calling 713-292-7272.