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Survey Challenges Notions About African American, Hispanic Achievement

Survey Challenges Notions About African American, Hispanic Achievement


Academic aspirations and student attitudes about school differ only slightly among African American, Hispanic, Asian and White students, according to a survey conducted by the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN).

Based on 40,000 responses from high-school students in 15 relatively affluent school districts across the country, the study challenges many preconceptions about racial and ethnic differences among student groups.

For instance, despite the commonly held belief that African American and Hispanic students often have an “anti-school” orientation, the study found that African American and Hispanic students were more likely than White or Asian students to report that their friends think it is “very important” to “study hard and get good grades.”

African American males were the most likely (51 percent) to believe this, as compared to 45 percent of Asian males, 43 percent of Hispanic males and 33 percent of White males. Among females, 52 percent of White females said their friends considered studying hard to get good grades was very important, as did 56 percent Hispanic, 63 percent Asian, and 61 percent African American females.

The survey also explored issues such as teacher-student relationships, students’ understanding of classroom material, homework and peer pressure. Overall, survey responses indicated that African American and Hispanic youth in the districts have as much desire to succeed in schools as their White and Asian counterparts. However, disparities do exist in their mastery of skills, and critical gaps remain in the resources available to support their achievement.

For example, only 20 percent of Hispanic students and 27 percent of African American students reported having more than one computer at home, as compared to 42 percent of Asians and 57 percent of White students.

Similarly, nearly half of the African American students said they “understand the teacher’s lesson about half the time, or less,” compared with 27 percent of White students and 32 percent of Asian students.

The study also found that on average, African American and Hispanic students in the districts were more likely to live with only one parent or neither parents, and their parents were less likely to have college degrees than the parents of White students.

For more information about the study visit the MSAN Web site at .

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