Areas of Expertise


Achievement Gaps
Literature Library


Alva, S. A., & de los Reyes, R. (1999). Psychosocial stress, internalized symptoms, and the academic achievement of Hispanic adolescents.Journal of Adolescent Research, 14, 343-358.

Social Stresses Harm Hispanic Students’ Achievement Research shows that the stress and anxieties Hispanic students commonly suffer has a negative impact on their performance in school.

Asakawa, K., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Feelings of connectedness and internalization of values in Asian American adolescents.Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29, 121-145. Retrieved January 23, 2002 from Proquest database.

Can Social Connectedness Explain Asian-Americans’ Academic Success? Kiyoshi Asakawa and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi consider how the social orientation of Asian-American students promotes the internalization of cultural values favoring educational achievement.

Internalizing Beliefs about the Value of Education Kiyoshi Asakawa and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi consider how the theory of “internalization” may account for Asian-American students’ strong academic performance.

Bernstein, J., & Rothstein, R. (1998, November/December). The black-white test score gap.The American Prospect,9. Retrieved August 8, 2002, from

How to Fix the Earning Gap? Start with Inequality in the Labor Market Jared Bernstein and Richard Rothstein emphasize the persistence of discrimination in the labor market as the most important explanation for the earnings gap between black and white workers.

Ceci, S. J., & Williams, W. M. (1998, November/December). The black-white test score gap.The American Prospect,9. Retrieved August 8, 2002, from

Want to Address the Achievement Gap? Educate the Parents Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams argue that improving parents’ education is an effective way of reducing the test score gap.

Conchas, G. Q. (2001). Structuring failure and success: Understanding the variability in Latino school engagement.Harvard Educational Review, 71, 475-504. Retrieved August 8, 2002 from ProQuest database.

Confronting Segregation and Stereotypes: Latinos’ High School Experience Gilberto Conchas reports on the negative factors that shape Latino high school students’ academic performance.

How to Explain Latino Students’ Poor Academic Achievement? School Factors Should Play an Important Role Gilberto Conchas surveys one common explanation for Latino students’ poor academic performance and suggests how this explanation needs to be refined.

Integration, Teamwork, and Opportunity for Minority Students: One Program’s Successes Gilberto Conchas studies a successful program to boost Latino students’ academic achievement and career opportunities at a California high school.

Ferguson, R. F. (1998). Can schools narrow the black-white test score gap? In C. Jencks and M. Phillips (Eds.),The black-white test score gap (pp. 318-374). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

How Can Schools Narrow the Black-White Test Score Gap? A leading scholar reviews the research on the effects that schools can have on narrowing the black-white test score gap. He concludes that many things that schools do make an impact on black and white test scores.

Ferguson, R. F. (1998). Teachers' perceptions and expectations and the black-white test score gap. In C. Jencks and M. Phillips (Eds.),The black-white test score gap (pp. 273-317). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

Breaking the Link between Teacher Expectations and Black Students' Performance A leading scholar argues that teachers' perceptions, expectations, and behaviors probably do help to sustain, and perhaps even expand, the black-white test score gap. However, he believes that there are some ways that black students' performance can be unlinked from some harmful effects of low teacher expectations.

Teacher Perceptions, Expectations, and Behaviors May Put Black Students at a Disadvantage A leading scholar finds that teachers have different perceptions and expectations for black students than white students. He argues that these differing expectations lead to different teacher behaviors that, in turn, reinforce lower black student performance.

What Does it Mean to be Race-Neutral? A scholar argues that research on teacher bias can be confusing because research that supports one notion of bias can look unbiased from a different perspective. He offers three different understandings of "race neutrality" to help lessen the confusion in this field of research.

Frisby, C. L. (1993). One giant step backward: Myths of black cultural learning styles.School Psychology Review, 22, 535-557.

Researcher Critiques Assumptions Underlying the Idea of Black Cultural Learning Styles According to one scholar, the notion of a Black Cultural Learning Style is seriously flawed. The scholar identifies five assumptions underlying this perspective and demonstrates why each of these assumptions is problematic.

Scholar Argues that Cultural Learning Styles Do Not Come in Black and White Can we explain the black-white achievement gap as a result of different cultural learning styles? A researcher argues that we cannot. He says that the idea of a Black Cultural Learning Style is fundamentally flawed and harkens back to an old racist perspective on education.

Gottfredson, L. S. (2000). Skills gaps, not tests, make racial proportionality impossible.Psychology, Public Policy and Law, 6, 129-143. Retrieved August 2, 2002 from ProQuest database.

The Key to Black Achievement is Criteria, not Comparison Efforts to force racial proportionality in colleges and the workplace are misguided, says one scholar.

Goyette, K., & Xie, Y. (1999). Educational expectations of Asian American youths: Determinants and ethnic differences.Sociology of Education, 72, 22-36. Retrieved April 1, 2002 from ProQuest database.

Why Are Asian-American Students Motivated to Achieve? Sociologists Kimberly Goyette and Yu Xie examine how high expectations affect different Asian groups in their academic performance.

Grissmer, D., Flanagan, A., & Williamson, S. (1998). Why did the black-white score gap narrow in the 1970s and 1980s? In C. Jencks and M. Phillips (Eds.),The black-white test score gap (pp. 182-226). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

Changes in Schools May Help Explain the Narrowing of the Achievement Gap in the 1970s and 1980s Many educational changes were made in the 1970s and 1980s that may have helped black students in the U.S. Many of these changes were focused on the way that schools were organized.

Do Educational Changes Explain the Narrowing of the Achievement Gap in the 1970s and 1980s? How did educational changes affect the black-white test score gap in the 1970s and 1980s? A team of researchers investigates the effects of educational processes on the achievement gap.

Why Did the Achievement Gap Narrow in the 1970s and 1980s? Changes in Families May Explain More for Black Students than for White Students A group of researchers finds that black and white family characteristics do not explain the same amount when it comes to understanding the changes in test scores during the 1970s and 1980s. General changes in U.S. families during this period appear to have had a greater effect on black children's test scores than on white children's test scores.

Gutman, L. M., & Midgley, C. (2000). The role of protective factors in supporting the academic achievement of poor African American students during the middle school transition.Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29, 223-248.

What Helps Poor African American Students Make the Transition from Elementary to Middle School? Researchers examine the things that help prevent a drop in poor African American students' grades as they make the transition from elementary to middle school. They find that school and family characteristics interact closely to affect student grades.

Hanushek, E. A., Kain, J. F., & Rivkin, S. G. (2002).New evidence about Brown v. Board of Education: The complex effects of school racial composition on achievement. National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 8741.

Desegregation and Student Achievement: What's the Connection? School desegregation was meant in part to reduce the racial gap in achievement. However, research has found inconsistent effects of racial composition on academic performance. A study of Texas schools aims to set the record straight.

Researchers Link School Segregation to the Racial Gap in Achievement A study of Texas schools finds that having more black classmates slows the achievement gains of other black elementary school children, particularly those with above-average test scores. This "peer effect" does not affect white students, suggesting that some of the racial gap in achievement is due to segregation.

Haycock, K. (2002). State policy levers: Closing the achievement gap.The State Education Standard, 3, 6-13.

Schools Matter: Four Steps to Closing the Achievement Gap Once and For All Progress in closing the racial and economic gap in student performance halted during the 1990s. States can and have resumed progress by having uniform standards, making the curriculum challenging, helping students catch up, and providing good teachers.

Jencks, C., & Phillips, M. (1998). The black-white test score gap: An introduction. In C. Jencks and M. Phillips (Eds.),The black-white test score gap (pp. 1-51). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

College Performance and Wages: How Do Black and White Test Scores Relate? How does the difference between black and white student test scores relate to college admission, college grades, and later wages? Two researchers review the research.

Scholars Believe We Can Close the Black-White Test Score Gap, but Traditional Answers Will Not Work Scholars have known about the existence of a gap between blacks and whites in terms of achievement test scores since the early twentieth century. However, this gap persists. Scholars explain why they think the gap can be closed, why traditional perspectives on the gap are inadequate, and why closing this gap is important.

Scholars Provide an Overview of Explanations for Black-White Test Score Gap Many explanations exist for why black Americans consistently score lower on achievement and intelligence tests than white Americans. Two scholars provide an overview of these explanations.

What Can Be Done to Narrow the Black-White Test Score Gap? Two researchers look at what we know about reducing the black-white test score gap. They conclude that there is still much to learn. They also comment on what schools can do and what the society can do to address the issue.

Johnston, R. C., & Viadero, D. (2000, March 15). Unmet promise: Raising minority achievement.Education Week. Retrieved April 2, 2002, from

Authors Say Race Predicts Academic Achievement Two writers state that there is a large achievement gap in schools today and the problem is only getting worse.

Researchers Offer Lessons Learned to Overcome the Achievement Gap Two authors outline the lessons learned and recommendations for future efforts at eliminating the achievement gap.

Kober, N. (2001).It takes more than testing: Closing the achievement gap. Center on Education Policy. Retrieved April 4, 2002 from (Adobe® Reader® PDF).

Testing Has Its Limits: What, and How, Tests Should Measure The Center on Education Policy cautions about the limits of using tests for measuring progress and offers suggestions on how best to use them.

What Are the Trends in the Race Achievement Gap? The Center on Education Policy shows that while the achievement gap declined in the 1980s, it grew again in the 1990s.

What Can Schools, Communities, and Families Do about the Achievement Gap? The Center on Education Policy recommends an array of strategies at the school, community, and home levels for reducing the achievement gap.

What Contributes to the Achievement Gap? The Center on Education Policy identifies an array of factors in the school, the community, and the home that may be contributing causes of the achievement gap.

Kornhaber, M. (1998, November/December). The black-white test score gap.The American Prospect,9. Retrieved August 8, 2002, from

The Problem Is “Cognitive Equity” Mindy Kornhaber poses the test score gap as a problem of what she calls “cognitive equity.”

Lee, J. (2002). Racial and ethnic achievement gap trends: Reversing the progress toward equity?Educational Researcher, 31, 3-12.

Researcher Finds that Changes in Achievement Gap Trends Indicate that Explanations Change over Time A researcher argues that explanations for the white-minority achievement gap must change for different groups at different points in time to account for fluctuations in the achievement gap trends.

Why Standard Explanations of the Achievement Gap Do Not Explain Changes in the Achievement Gap By looking closely at white-minority achievement gap trends over the past 30 years, a researcher argues that none of the standard explanations for the academic achievement gap fully explains the trends.

Lee, J. (1998). State policy correlates of the achievement gap among racial and social groups.Studies in Educational Evaluation, 24, 137-152.

States Differ on Achievement Gap Patterns National data on achievement gap trends among white and non-white students can mask differences in trends among states. A researcher examines differences in state achievement gap patterns.

When It Comes to Efforts to Address the Achievement Gap, States Are Not Equal How do different state educational policies designed to address the achievement gap compare? Which are more difficult? Which are less difficult?

Lopez, G. R. (2001). The value of hard work: Lessons on parent involvement from an (im)migrant household.Harvard Educational Review, 71, 416-437. Retrieved April 3, 2002 from ProQuest database.

Some Immigrant Families Take a Non-Standard Approach to Involvement in Their Children's Education Gerardo Lopez examines how the parents of a Mexican migrant family have achieved success in promoting an educational work ethic for their children.

Loury, G. C. (1998, November/December). The black-white test score gap.The American Prospect,9. Retrieved August 8, 2002, from

Parents Need to Assume More Responsibility Glenn C. Loury argues that given problems with crafting effective governmental policies to remedy the test gap, parents can make a major contribution.

Miller, L. S. (1999).Reaching the top: A Report of the National Task Force on Minority High Achievement. The College Board. Retrieved April 2, 2002 from (Adobe Reader PDF).

The College Board Makes Recommendations to Increase Minority High Achievement What can America do to raise the numbers of high achieving minority students? The College Board makes several recommendations.

What Have We Learned about Raising Minority Academic Achievement? In their report, Reaching the Top: Report of the National Task Force on Minority High Achievement, the College Board reviews the research and programs since the 1960s that target raising minority achievement. They create a synopsis of what we know, based on 30 years of experience, about raising the number of high-achieving minority students.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (1999).Long term trend assessment. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved March 29, 2002 from

Black and Hispanic Students Improve on NAEP Math Scores More than White Students between 1977 and 1999 Long Term Trends from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reveal that black and Hispanic students made greater gains between 1977 and 1999 than white students on NAEP math scores. NAEP scores also reveal that the lowest achieving students made greater gains than the highest achieving students.

Long-Term Trends in U.S. Student Math Scores: A Racial Comparison The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tracked U.S. students' knowledge of mathematics since the early 1970s. By examining the performance of different subgroups, the NAEP gives us a way to compare the mathematics achievement of students of different races.

Long-Term Trends in U.S. Student Reading Scores: A Racial Comparison The National Assessment of Educational Progress has mapped long-term trends in U.S. student reading. According to their 1999 long-term trends report, there are some important differences in the scores of white, black, and Hispanic students.

Long-Term Trends in U.S. Student Science Scores: A Racial Comparison The National Assessment of Educational Progress tracks U.S. student knowledge in various subject areas. Their 1999 report presents the trends in U.S. student science knowledge over the past 30 years.

What Is the National Assessment of Educational Progress? The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only national, continuous assessment of U.S. students' knowledge of a range of subject areas. The characteristics of the NAEP reading, math, and science assessments are described.

National Center for Education Statistics (2001).Educational achievement and black-white inequality. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved August 28, 2002 from

Black-White Achievement Gap Persists in All Grades and Reappears Quickly A government study of elementary and secondary students finds that blacks have lower math and reading scores than whites at every grade level, even among blacks who had the same test scores as whites just a year or two earlier. This leaves blacks at a disadvantage as they prepare for college or the job market.

Early Education May Be Key to Closing the Gap between Blacks and Whites The black-white gap in employment, earnings, and college education has persisted and in some cases started to grow. A federal report reviews several theories and finds that much of this gap is related to racial differences in elementary and secondary achievement test scores.

Prior Education Predicts Racial Differences in College Enrollment and Graduation A government study finds that blacks are more likely to attend college and just as likely to graduate as whites with similar levels of educational achievement. However, a gap in postsecondary schooling still persists for blacks as a group.

Prior Education Predicts Racial Differences in Employment and Earnings A government study finds that the black-white gap in employment and earnings is reduced significantly when educational achievement levels are taken into account. Young black women even tend to earn more than white women with similar levels of prior educational achievement.

Ogbu, J. U. (1994). Racial stratification and education in the United States: Why inequality persists.Teachers College Record,96, 264-298. Retrieved August 2, 2002, from

A Scholar Argues that Racial Stratification Is Still Important for Understanding Inequality in America Racial stratification, not class stratification, is the underlying cause for continuing racial inequality in the U.S., says one scholar. He explains the differences in these two perspectives on social stratification and explains why race explains more than class in understanding the situation of black Americans.

Scholar Identifies Two Sides of Racial Stratification in the U.S. Racial stratification persists not only because of the ways that whites treat blacks but also because of the responses of blacks to this treatment. A scholar argues that we must understand the basis for racial stratification and racial inequality in the U.S. in order to address it effectively.

The Black-White Achievement Gap Is the Result of Racial Stratification, Argues One Scholar How is racial stratification related to poor academic achievement in black students? A scholar identifies three links.

Orfield, G. (2001).Schools more separate: Consequences of a decade of resegregation. Retrieved August 2, 2002, from Harvard University, The Civil Rights Project Web site: research/deseg/separate_schools01.php.

Are U.S. Schools Becoming More Segregated? Research Says "Yes" The U.S. is becoming increasingly diverse. This trend is probably nowhere as evident as in U.S. public schools where the number of black and Latino students has risen dramatically over the past thirty years. However, U.S. schools are also becoming more segregated, says a leading scholar.

Is There a Relationship between School Segregation and the Achievement Gap? Scholar Gary Orfield reports that American schools have become more racially and ethnically segregated since the late 1980s. He also notes that this resegregation coincided with a stagnation in the decrease of the achievement gap between white and non-white, non-Asian students.

Phillips, M., Brooks-Gunn, J., Duncan, G. J., Klebanov P., & Crane, J. (1998). Family background, parenting practices, and the black-white test score gap. In C. Jencks and M. Phillips (Eds.), The black-white test score gap (pp. 103-145). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

Heredity and Environment: What Role Do Family Characteristics Play in Explaining the Black-White Test Score Gap? A group of authors explores the effects of family environment on the black-white test score gap.

How Might Genetic Influences on Academic Achievement Masquerade as Environmental Influences? Part of the problem in determining "how much" of the black-white achievement gap results from heredity versus environment is that a person's genes and environment influence each other in complicated ways. It is often difficult to tell what part of a person's situation is influenced by their genetic makeup and what part is shaped by their environment.

Roscigno, V. J. (1998). Race and the reproduction of educational disadvantage.Social Forces, 76, 1033-60.

A Complex Web of Institutional Relations Gives Rise to Educational Disadvantage for U.S. Blacks A researcher examines the complex institutional processes and relationships that lie behind the racial inequality in academic achievement in the U.S. He develops a model that takes into account family and educational factors to help explain racial inequality.

What Matters When Trying to Understand the Educational Achievement Gap Between Black and White Students? Many factors contribute to racial inequality in achievement test scores. A researcher examines the interplay of race and institutional processes in the creation and perpetuation of racial inequality.

Sadowski, M. (2001, November/December). Closing the gap one school at a time.Harvard Education Letter. Retrieved August 8, 2002, from

What Is the Role of Social Expectations in the Achievement Gap? Researchers have found that different social expectations sometimes account for the gap between black and white students’ achievement.

What Methods Have Some Schools Adopted to Remedy the Achievement Gap? Researchers studying the disparities in achievement between white and black students have found that understanding and remedying this problem requires new methods such as those adopted by several innovative school districts.

Schmid, C. L. (2001). Educational achievement, language-minority students, and the new second generation.Sociology of Education, Supplement: Currents of Thought: Sociology of Education at the Dawn of the 21st Century, 71-87. Retrieved April 4, 2002 from ProQuest database.

Different Factors Affect the Academic Achievement of Asian and Latino Immigrant and Second-Generation Students A scholar reviews the research on factors that affect the academic achievement of Latino versus Asian immigrants.

Skrla, L., Scheurich, J. J., Johnson, Jr., J. F., & Koschoreck, J. W. (2001). Accountability for equity: Can state policy leverage social justice?International Journal of Leadership in Education, 4, 237-260.

Scholars Argue that We Can Use Educational Accountability as a Lever for Educational Justice Researchers Linda Skrla, James Joseph Scheurich, Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., and James W. Koschoreck argue that there is "compelling evidence that the U.S. public educational system largely remains systematically racist."

Steele, C. M. (1998, November/December). The black-white test score gap.The American Prospect, 9. Retrieved August 8, 2002, from

Don’t Treat the Symptom: Cure the Disease Claude M. Steele argues that efforts to remedy the black-white test score gap need to aim at the root causes, and not just at the tests themselves.

Viadero, D. (2000, March 22). Lags in minority achievement: Defy traditional explanations.Education Week. Retrieved August 28, 2002, from

Numerous Factors Contribute to the Knowledge Gap The author lists and explains the different factors that contribute to the poor performance of these students.

Viadero, D. (2000, March 29). Minority gaps smaller in some Pentagon schools.Education Week. Retrieved August 28, 2002, from

Public Schools Should Learn from the Best Practices of Military-Run Schools There are many lessons to be learned and practices to be replicated from the military-run schools in overcoming the achievement gap.

Wenglinsky, H. (2001).Teacher classroom practices and student performance: How schools can make a difference. Retrieved August 28, 2002, from Educational Testing Service Web site:

Teachers Make a Difference in Student Performance A researcher argues that much of the research on the influence of schools and teachers on student achievement is flawed. Because of a lack of good data and because of methodological problems, previous research has downplayed the importance of school and teacher influences in student achievement. However, by using newer statistical methods and data, the author finds that schools and teachers can make a significant difference in student achievement.

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