Eradicating the Achievement Gap

By Robertson, Harvetta | Black History Bulletin, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Eradicating the Achievement Gap

Robertson, Harvetta, Black History Bulletin


It may be surprising to some that the achievement gap remains a looming concern in the twenty-first century. Surely, with advances in technology and the use of research-based instructional practices in American schools, all students would experience equal opportunities to learn, along with opportunities for continuous academic achievement and personal development. The reality, however, is that the goal of equal opportunity and academic achievement for all students remains just that--a goal. This is evidenced most obviously by federal legislation stating that no child would be left behind in American schools (1)--a goal that one would assume there was no need to verbalize, let alone to be signed into law. With this federal legislation in place to ensure that all students are afforded an opportunity for academic achievement, why, then, does a continued challenge need to be in place to support the learning of all students--their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic standing, gender, or language background notwithstanding? The contributors to this issue have addressed reasons for this challenge from various perspectives worthy of consideration. And, while it is obvious that the achievement gap will not disappear on its own, and that it will take continuous, purposeful efforts to significantly impact this challenge, it is also evident that the goal of eradicating the achievement gap must at all times be at the forefront.

Pulling it up by the roots

Eradicate is a powerful word. In fact, Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines it as "to do away with as completely as if by pulling up by the roots." (2) In a similar vein, the authors of this issue target methods for doing away with the academic achievement gap in much the same way--by pulling it up and away from its life-source, by its very roots. In this instance, the achievement gap's roots are synonymous with its origins and take several different, significant, and equally debilitating forms. One point of origin has been linked to teacher expectations. For example, teachers have been found to have lower expectations for their students of color than for their white or Asian students, believing students of color to be low achievers. Though research clearly shows that teachers' lowered expectations and beliefs about their students' performance negatively affect student achievement, (3) these expectations persist and student achievement suffers. However, on the contrary, there are identifiable correlates of schools that effectively serve all students regardless of race.

It has been found that when the prevailing belief of teachers is that students can achieve, the steps necessary for student success are taken. For this to occur, educators must have a strong sense of efficacy. When teachers possess a strong sense of efficacy, they become confident instructors who are willing to use a variety of instructional strategies and to go that extra mile when a student does not understand a concept the first time. These teachers plan, implement, and evaluate their teaching with their students' abilities, interests, and needs as their focus. The mere introduction of high expectations into the equation of instruction and student achievement makes a difference in improving student outcomes.


Another point of origin for the achievement gap has been linked to student self-perception. Students' self-perceptions influence their performance. If students of color (or any students, for that matter) are convinced that they cannot or should not strive for excellence in school (because they lack the ability or perceive academic achievement as "acting white"), they exhibit behavior that is counterproductive to their academic goals. Therefore, it is imperative that parents, grandparents, community members, teachers, and friends teach students that academic achievement is a part of their historical background in order to create a mindset that includes a successful academic achievement foreground. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Eradicating the Achievement Gap


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.