The Black-White Other Test Score Gap: Academic Achievement Among Mixed Race Adolescents (WP-02-31)


Melissa Herman

This paper describes the achievement patterns of a sample of 1,492 multiracial high school students and then examines how their achievement fits into existing theoretical models that explain monoracial differences in achievement. These theoretical models include status attainment, parenting style, oppositional culture, and educational attitudes. My results replicate previous findings about the racial hierarchy of academic achievement among monoracial youth and demonstrate the similarity of the hierarchy within biracial groups: part-black and part-Latino youth fare poorly while part-white and part-Asian youth achieve the most. Furthermore, multiracial students who self-identify as black or Latino achieve less in school than those who identify as white or Asian. However, unlike some previous findings, the paper shows that racial identity and experiences of racism are not strong factors in explaining the achievement of multiracial or monoracial students. Instead, the school achievement of multiracials is related to some mix of the variables present in explanations for each monoracial group.

Melissa Herman, Department of Sociology, Northwestern University

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