Minority Academic Achievement in a Selective Public University: The Role of the Campus Environment

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Addressing the Achievement Gap: Findings and Applications


R. D. Taylor


Information Age Press

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Interest in improving the academic achievement of ethnic minorities is not new. Concern about improving the educational and vocational opportunities for African Americans has been expressed since the turn of the twentieth century. The question about how this could best be achieved was at the heart of the debates between W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington almost 100 years ago. Programs such as Head Start, which attempts to better prepare poor and minority children for school, are an important legacy of the civil rights era. Indeed, one of the key policy accomplishments in the post-civil rights era has been a reduction in the achievement gap between whites and blacks. The reduction of this gap, most apparent when examining rates of high school completion and graduation, progressed throughout the 1970s and 1980s such that by the 1990s, blacks were graduating from high school and enrolling in college in almost equal number to whites (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1997; U.S. Department of Education, 1999). (However, it is important to note that minorities represent a greater proportion of the student body in associate of arts institutions and are still a small proportion at research universities, with the exception of Asian Americans [U.S. Department of Education, 2000].) Although not as dramatic, the 1970s and 1980s were also a period of increasing educational attainment for Latinos (U.S. Department of Education, 1999). For Asian Americans, the achievement gap was also reduced, and by the end of the 1980s, Asian American educational attainment had come to outstrip that of whites (Hirschman & Wong, 1986; Lee, 1998; U.S. Census Bureau, 1998).


Originally published by Information Age Publishing. Limited preview available through remote link.