THE BLACK-WHITE ACHIEVEMENT GAP IN THE FIRST COLLEGE YEAR: EVIDENCE FROM A NEW LONGITUDINAL CASE STUDY
In the United States, an achievement gap between whites and blacks persists at all levels of schooling from elementary school to higher education. Definitive reasons and remedies for minority underperformance remain unclear. This study examines how students acquire and utilize "collegiate capital" which, in turn, relates to their academic achievement in the first year of college. Results indicate that significant black-white differences in academic achievement emerge as early as the first semester of students' first year in college. Controls for family background, parental involvement, prior ability, cultural capital acquired during the middle- and high-school years, and other factors produce a moderate reduction in the achievement gap, but over half of the gap remains unexplained. The study is part of a larger research project that involves a longitudinal study of two cohorts - the graduating classes of 2005 and 2006 - at a major private university. Through the assessment of pre-college differences and extensive data collected via student surveys and academic records during the college years, the goal of the larger project is to illuminate the factors underlying raced-based variations on a range of academic outcomes such as educational performance and attainment, but also several new measures of collegiate intellectual development such as students' ecological integration, perceptions of other groups, and satisfaction with college. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Spenner, KI; Buchmann, C; Landerman, LR
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