Teacher Perspectives: Why Do African-American, Hispanic, and Vietnamese Students Fail?
Jacqueline Jordan Irvineand Darlene Eleanor York
Students from every social class, every ethnic and cultural group, and every geographic region experience academic success and failure in schools. However, when particular racial or ethnic groups of students achieve or fail at disproportionate rates, questions surface about differences in their educational experiences. For example, since 1975, Asian students have consistently scored higher on the mathematics section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) than any other racial group in the United States. In the 1987-1988 school year, the difference in the mathematics score between Asian and white students (the second highest scoring group) was more than 30 points (College Entrance Examination Board, 1988). Conversely, during the same period, African-American and Hispanic students ranked at the bottom of the SAT verbal and mathematics sections, consistently scoring lower than all other ethnic groups, including American Indian and Puerto Rican students. During the 1987-1988 school year, the difference between Asian students (the highest scoring group) and African-American students (the lowest scoring group) was more than 50 points on the verbal section and more than 130 points in mathematics (College Entrance Examination Board, 1988). Similar low performance of minority students on standardized tests has also been found by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, 1985).
To understand the reasons for school failure among minority students, researchers have examined many facets of minority education: poverty and deprivation ( Coleman, 1966), lack of parental involvement ( Clark, 1983), segregated schools, ( Camburn, 1990; Hawley, 1989; Rist, 1985), and an irrelevant Eurocentric school curriculum ( Asante, 1988; Viadero, 1990). Another body of research has focused on teachers: their expectations for students, their treatment of students, and their explanations of student academic performance. This final area--teacher explanations of student academic performance--is the focus of