What are the Achievement Gaps?
Sociologists Kimberly Goyette and Yu Xie examine how high expectations affect different Asian groups in their academic performance.
This reports some of the ideas and findings from the following source:
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.
To see other reports that originated from this same citation, go to the bibliography.
Many studies have demonstrated that Asian-American students typically achieve significant academic success. For example, Asian-Americans tend to score higher than whites on tests of math ability, they often have higher GPAs, and they are more likely to go on to four-year colleges than whites.
Yet this broad picture simultaneously lacks detail and offers few explanations, argue Kimberly Goyette and Yu Xie. In seeking to better understand the reasons for Asian-Americans’ high educational achievement, Goyette and Xie make two important proposals:
Scholars have long known that parents with higher levels of socioeconomic status and educational attainment tend to produce children who also achieve at a high level. How does this dynamic play into expectations for whites and different groups of Asian-Americans? Goyette and Xie considered factors such as the father’s and mother’s educational level, the generation of immigrant (whether first, second, or third generation), and the family structure (intact or non-intact).
Previous research has found that "children who score high on proficiency tests develop high levels of educational expectations based on positive reinforcements from others and their own perceptions of the feasibility of continuing in school" (Tested Academic Ability section, ¶ 3).
Scholars have theorized that cultural emphasis on education plays a major role in explaining Asian-American students’ achievement. Asian parents often view education as the main vehicle for upward social mobility, such that academic success can even overcome some of the structural obstacles of being a marginalized minority in American society. John Ogbu has also proposed that as "voluntary immigrants" who actively wanted to come to the United States, Asians tend to have positive attitudes toward their chances for economic and academic success.
The key conclusions of this research are that expectations indeed play a positive role in encouraging academic achievement for Asian-Americans. Additionally, it is clear that notable variations do exist among different Asian groups on the explanatory factors.
On the broadest level, the research also suggests how Asian-Americans view education as an important means of achieving socioeconomic success. It is in this sense of “social mobility through the educational channel,” Goyette and Xie write, “that Asian-Americans of diverse groups are similar and can be treated as such” (Conclusion section, ¶ 2).
Research Design: The authors analyzed data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 19881990 using methods of descriptive statistics and linear and logistic multivariate regression models. The research was funded by a grant from the William T. Grant Foundation and a Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation for Yu Xie and an NICHD traineeship for Kimberly Goyette.
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