There are many factors that contribute to the achievement gap between students of color and their white peers. Here are three possible reasons, along with some sources that provide further information:
- Systemic inequities: Students of color may face systemic barriers to success in school, including discrimination, poverty, and lack of access to high-quality educational opportunities. A report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that students of color are more likely to attend high-poverty schools with fewer resources, which can negatively impact their academic outcomes (NCES, 2020).
- Cultural differences in learning styles and expectations: Students of color may come from cultures that value different learning styles or have different expectations for academic achievement. For example, some students from Hispanic or Native American backgrounds may have a more collaborative learning style and place less emphasis on individual achievement (Gay, 2010).
- Stereotype threat: Students of color may experience stereotype threat, or the fear that they will be judged based on negative stereotypes about their racial or ethnic group. This can lead to anxiety and reduced performance on academic tasks. A study published in the journal Social Psychology of Education found that stereotype threat can contribute to the achievement gap between Black and white students (Johns, Schmader, & Martens, 2005).
- It’s important to note that these are just a few possible factors that may contribute to the achievement gap, and that there is a complex interplay of individual, family, and societal factors that can impact student success. Addressing these issues requires a multifaceted approach that includes both systemic changes and individualized support for students.
Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). Teachers College Press.
Johns, M., Schmader, T., & Martens, A. (2005). Knowing is half the battle: Teaching stereotype threat as a means of improving women’s math performance. Social Psychology of Education, 8(4), 375-392.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2020). Status and trends in the education of racial and ethnic groups. U.S. Department of Education.