For decades, researchers have studied the black-white achievement gap. This research shows that the gap exists at all points along the achievement distribution and is especially prominent among high-achieving students(Hedges and Nowell 1999; Riegle-Crumb and Grodsky 2010). While the gap has narrowed since the 1970s, currentlylittle progress is being made in closing the gap further (Magnuson and Waldfogel 2008). We need to know more about why the achievement gap exists in order to work to narrow the gap. Researchers have posited many explanations as to why black students consistently score lower than white students on achievement tests, ranging from micro explanations, such as innate differences, to marco explanations, such as differences in opportunity structures. One particularly entrenched explanation in conventional wisdom and among educators is rooted in culture, despite academic research that challenges and disputes these theories (e.g., Cook and Ludwig 1998; Ainsworth- Darnell and Downey 1998). The oppositional cultural theory argues that black students have lower test scores than white students because black students recognize that their opportunities in the labor market are limited as a result of their social status and thus devalue education (Ogbu 1978). In other words, black students purposefully resist doing well in school.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science