Essay Example on Educational Achievement Gap: African Americans vs. Caucasians

Paper Type: 
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1574 Words
Date:  2023-05-30

Introduction: Educational Disparities between African Americans and Caucasians

Education is essential since it provides various opportunities for social, economic, and upward mobility in modern society. However, a significant disparity exists between the number of African Americans and Caucasians who study and attain four-year degrees in colleges. Some of the factors within the African American race that contribute to the gap in educational achievement include the lack of involvement of the family in the education of the children. The disinterest may result from an array of factors such as single-parenthood where the remaining parent in a household has a variety of obligations. In addition to that, African Americans devalue education by asserting that there are different other means of securing employment (Kim 25). Also, parents lack responsibility by failing to show their children the importance of education and the available opportunities it creates. Therefore, this paper describes the educational achievement gap of African Americans when compared to the Caucasians, and the findings are that the gap results due to poverty, lack of parental involvement, and rational choice theory of the African Americans.

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Accordingly, a high school diploma is critical for a person to enroll in colleges and universities (Rothstein n.p). Failure to complete high school inhibits one's chances of getting to college and university. African Americans frequently drop out of high school due to a variety of reasons that range from engagement in criminal tendencies to peer influence. In the year 2003, about 20% of the blacks dropped out of high school when opposed to 11% of the Caucasians while in 2004, 11.9% of the blacks dropped off high school when compared to 6% of the Caucasian white males (Schenke et al. 796). About one in nine of the African Americans have a four-year degree (Schenke et al. 796). From these statistics, one can see the extent of disparities in the educational achievement levels of the blacks and that of the Caucasian males.

Factors Contributing to the Educational Achievement Gap

Importantly, America is a racialized society. However, the educational achievement gap between the African Americans and Caucasian males may result due to cultural factors.

Notably, most of the African American males in high school fall behind in education since they score low on standardized exams that include writing, reading, and math. Most liberals claimed that the educational gap emanated from the combination of black poverty, racial segregation, and lack of funding of black schools.

High School Dropout Rates and Standardized Test Scores

The most reasonable explanation for the falling behind of African American males in education includes the poverty culture. A majority of the African Americans who complete their colleges and attain at least a four-year degree can attribute their achievement to a robust economic advantage. Failure to possess a college degree correlates substantially with neediness and poverty. One of the hidden costs of poverty is the educational gap witnessed by African Americans. Poverty and heightened joblessness contribute to various consequences such as over-crowdedness, poor mental and physical health, stress, family disruption, teen pregnancy, school dropout, violence, crime, and abuse of drugs and alcohol, to mention a few (Rothstein n.p). The high poverty levels among the African Americans in the United States due to the inequality of employment among various other reasons make it challenging for the children within those families to study effectively. Research has proven that children from poverty-stricken backgrounds were more likely to drop out of school. Thus, they could engage in delinquent and violent tendencies frequently. Therefore, one can see the harsh consequences of poverty on the educational achievement gap of African Americans. In contrast, most Caucasian families have formal employment since they face limited racial discrimination when compared to the blacks. As such, the children in those families can attend schools comfortably and proceed towards the attainment of degrees, among other educational achievements.

Consequently, the differences in parental involvement in a child's educational life are another factor that has contributed to the educational achievement gap between African Americans and the Caucasians. The decline in the structure of the family is one of the primary reasons behind the lack of involvement of African American parents in the lives of their children as opposed to Caucasian families where parents are increasingly involved in the educational experience of their children. The nuclear family structure of African Americans has undergone dramatic change. Most families are headed by a single parent, particularly in urban areas and settings. The phenomenon has resulted due to the increased number of separation and divorces. Families have a substantial effect on the education of a child. The first theory views the family as the site where children study about how to get along in society once they reach their adulthood. Without a father, having in mind that most single parents have female as their heads, children lack a male role model. Children born and reared in single families are more likely to drop out of school more than those born in complete families are (Peterson et al. 140). Therefore, these disparities in upbringing and parental involvement due to single families explain the educational achievement gap between African Americans and Caucasian males.

The Rational Choice Theory and Educational Decisions

Lastly, the rational choice theory can help to explain the educational achievement gap between African Americans and Caucasian males. The supposition views the educational decision of the learners as a series of choices between options that entail long-term growth and prospects that reduce the short-term risk of possible failure (Gabay-Egozi et al. 448). African Americans tend to make rational decisions about dropping out of school since they are worried that they may waste time in school and end up unemployed. Mainly, this differs from the Caucasian males who are assured of well-paying jobs after completion of schools. The unequal acquisition of employment results from racial discrimination facing African American populations. As stipulated in the rational choice theory, the choice between alternative options is affected by the considerations of the student's utility, their expectations concerning the odds of failure and success, and motivation to avoid a downward trend or poverty. Most African Americans search for jobs in a variety of ways and places from a young age. The hunt for jobs has contributed to increased drop outs and could explain the reason behind the deteriorating educational achievement.


In conclusion, racism has created education disparities between African American males and Caucasians. Primarily, this paper provides a variety of reasons behind the educational achievement gap between African Americans and Caucasian males. The rationales include poverty, lack of parental involvement due to familial structure, and rational choice theory. Destitution makes it challenging for African Americans to pay for the education of their children. More so, due to the high rates of divorces, most African American male children grow up in single-parent families. In those families, the males lack role models to guide them in their school activities. More so, the parents are hardly concerned with the school activities of their children and focus on different other things that including finding employment to take care of the families. Mainly, this differs from the Caucasian families where divorces are limited, and parents are concerned with the education of their children. Lastly, the inequalities of employment in America reduce the motivation of the students to study. Thus, this prompts them to prefer dropping out of school to studying, which explains the rational choice theory.

Works Cited

Gabay-Egozi, L., et al. "Curricular choice: A test of a rational choice model of education." European Sociological Review, vol. 26, no. 4, 5 June 2009, pp. 447-463, doi. 10.1093/esr/jcp031

Kim, Youngran. "The effects of school choice on achievement gaps between private and public high schools: Evidence from the Seoul High School choice program." International Journal of Educational Development, vol. 60, May 2018, pp. 25-32, doi. 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2017.10.019

Peterson, E.R., et al. "Teachers' explicit expectations and implicit prejudiced attitudes to educational achievement: Relations with student achievement and the ethnic achievement gap." Learning and Instruction, vol. 42, Apr. 2016, pp. 123-140, doi. 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2016.01.010

Rothstein, R. "The racial achievement gap, segregated schools, and segregated neighborhoods - A constitutional insult." Race and Social Problems, vol. 6, no. 4, 12 November 2014,

Schenke, Katerina, et al. "Differential effects of the classroom on African American and non-African American's mathematics achievement." Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 109, no. 6, Aug. 2017, pp. 794-811, doi. 10.1037/edu0000165

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Essay:

What is the main focus of the essay, and what does it aim to address regarding educational achievements?

The essay seeks to investigate the educational achievement gap between African Americans and Caucasians in the US, exploring its causes as well as racism's role in shaping these two groups' educational outcomes.

What are some of the factors within the African American race that contribute to the gap in educational achievement?

Poverty, lack of parental involvement and rational choice theory all play an integral part in creating an educational achievement gap among African Americans. Poverty makes education unaffordable to African American families while single parent households and limited parental involvement limit support and guidance during children's educational journey. According to rational choice theory, perceived lack of opportunities and discrimination has an influence on educational decisions among African American students.

What is the significance of high school completion for college enrollment and educational achievement?

High school graduation is essential to accessing higher education. Failing to complete high school may seriously impede one's ability to do so; dropout rates among African American students tend to be higher compared to Caucasians and contributes to an educational achievement gap.

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