Report: High-Achieving Minorities Drop Off in High School

Many high-achieving minority or economically disadvantaged students tend to do worse than their white and better-advantage peers, according to a new report released by the Education Trust.

Minority and economically disadvantaged students who have excelled at the elementary and junior high levels are twice as likely not to take college admission tests, score lower on the SAT and wind up with lower grade point averages in high school compared to their white and stable income counterparts.

According to an article by US News' Allie Bidwell, The Education Trust focused more on factors that could contribute to the disparity more than specific explanations.

At the top of list is teacher perception – specifically the view of some teachers that students from lower socio-economic classes or of minority races don't need to be challenged as much or won't be moving onto a college environment:

"In particular, teacher beliefs about how hard their students worked explained a great deal of this gap, as opposed to student-reported study habits and behavior records," the report said.

A case in point showing the disparity in the report shows that more than 75% of high-achieving black students have a B average or lower, while only 50% of high-achieving white students are at that level.

The tale of the tape is even more obvious when it comes to college interest. The report showed that 34% of high-achieving white students enrolled in highly-selective universities, meaning those that accept fewer than 20% of applicants. By comparison, only 19% of high-achieving black students enrolled in the same type universities and 24% of high-achieving Latino students.

While teacher expectations and views are part of the problem, the mentorship and support students get at home also can play a major factor in the drop-off. Minority and economically disadvantage households tend to have fewer two-parent marriages, which can lead to the single parent spending more time working and less time encouraging and helping a student with homework.

In other instances, once a student reaches the minimum age to work – typically 15 or 16 – helping contribute to the family's monthly income can become more important than doing well in school.

Per its own website, The Education Trust:

Promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels. Our goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people – especially those from low-income families or who are black, Latino or American Indian – to lives on the margins of the American mainstream.

04 17, 2014
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