Psychological processes underlying stereotype threat and standardized math test performance

Katherine E. Ryan, Allison M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The No Child Left Behind Act (2002) articulates a vision emphasizing the attainment of high achievement for all students. This legislation has defined a vital role for large-scale assessment in determining whether students are learning. However, standardized mathematics test performance by females and Black students continues to be a source of concern and controversy. While females' math grades are often higher, their math test scores begin to differ from those of males in early adolescence. Blacks score lower than Whites on standardized math tests and these differences remain, even when researchers consider background variables. Although many explanations have been offered for these findings, there is a growing appreciation that societal stereotypes, not solely mathematical proficiency, impair standardized test performance of female and Black students. Negative stereotypes (i.e., Blacks do poorly on achievement tests) can create a situational pressure that depresses their performance. The article integrates stereotype threat research and achievement goal research to better understand the motivational, affective, and cognitive processes involved in stereotype threat and math performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-63
Number of pages11
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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