Study Links Academic Achievement To Racial-Ethnic PrideUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
Anew study links academic achievement among African American students to racial-ethnic pride. The study, conducted by a Penn State University researcher, found that African American fourth graders with higher levels of racial-ethnic pride were found also to have higher academic achievement levels measured by reading and math grades in school and standardized tests.
The study, conducted by Dr. Emilie Phillips Smith, associate professor of human development and family studies, also found a correlation between parental and teacher racial-ethnic pride and children’s achievement.
“Children, whose teachers exhibited higher levels of racial-ethnic trust and perceived fewer barriers due to race and ethnicity, showed more trust and optimism,” Smith says. In addition, children living in communities with higher proportions of college-educated residents also exhibited more positive racial-ethnic attitudes, according to Smith.
“The study contradicts the notion that ‘racelessness’ in school children is necessary for success,” Smith says. “We found that family, school and community are all important factors related to children’s healthy racial-ethnic attitudes and that these attitudes are correlated with their academic achievement.”
Smith, who joined the Penn State faculty in September, conducted the study at the University of South Carolina, where she was a faculty member before coming to Penn State. The results are detailed in a paper published in the current issue of the American Journal of Community Psychology.
“This study has provided evidence that multiple important sources are related to the development of children’s racial-ethnic attitudes and their academic achievement. It provides initial evidence that more consideration should be given to the role of the school setting and, specifically, teachers in children’s racial-ethnic identity. The results also support the value of exposure to models of education success in the children’s communities,” Smith says.
Close to 100 African American child and parent pairs in South Carolina participated in the study, which was supported by a grant from the Institute for Families in Society. Sixty-seven percent of the families earned less than $22,000 annually. All of the children were in the fourth grade.
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