This I Believe

camyle - ann arbor, Michigan
Entered on January 21, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: equality

This I Believe

The Achievement Gap

Recent surveys across the country have shown that disturbing numbers of minorities have been “lagging” behind their white peers in academic success. However, the Minority Student Achievement Network found in a recent survey, that nine out of ten African American and Hispanic students believe that it is important to study hard and obtain good grades in school. This large break in performance tied to race and ethnicity is known as the achievement gap.

As shown in the recent survey taken by the Minority student Achievement Network, there are a number of minorities that find school and education important. Though when compared to other studies such as a survey taken in 2000 by Marcus A. Winters (Research Associate, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research) this fact seems hypercritical. The graduation rates (from high school) for white students towered over most minorities, accept for Asian students (79%), with a rate of 76% graduating (blacks-55%, Hispanic-53%, and Native Americans-57%). This is even more surprising when you consider the fact that minorities are starting to reach majority in U.S. schools.

As an African American I have experienced the achievement gap first hand. I know a number of people who have not graduated from high school, or are currently failing academically. I believe that a chance at having academic success is, unfortunately, not always distributed evenly throughout certain ethnic groups. Stereotypes such as; “minorities have an anti-school attitude” hold minorities back from succeeding. Although schools are supposed to be completely free of segregation and stereotyping, examples of both are seen daily in just about any school in the U.S.

When such stereotypes are exposed to minorities daily or often, it discourages them to succeed. It’s as if the whole world is waiting for them to fail. In reality most of these stereotypes are just that, stereotypes that have no truth behind them. School reform has been the top priority for governors and other government officials since the mid-1980s. They define the achievement gap as a matter of race and class. And report that across the U.S., a gap in academic achievement persists between minority and disadvantaged students and their white counterparts.

Unfortunately this is completely true; another factor that is holding minorities back from academic success is the fact that they do not have the proper materials to succeed. A perfect example of one of these materials is a computer, which is made necessary once you reach high school. Although they are available at public libraries, and at school, it still makes some minorities work harder to succeed.

Since the constitution says that every man is made equal, these statistics and stereotypes do not seem fair. Since the mid-1980s government officials have enforced the no child left behind act, which requires states to set the same performance heights for children of all race. This and other efforts from the community will eventually eliminate the achievement gap and make schools across the U.S. a healthy environment for all, creating a path to academic success and success in life.