Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Achievement gap between Asian American, white students

There has been recent attention in the news media to an effort in the state legislature to put before voters a repeal of Prop 209 which bans affirmative action in university admissions.  The effort collapsed when pressure from the Asian community led some legislators to withdraw their support.

Related to that episode is an article in the LA Times, based on an academic study, concerning Asian vs. white achievement in education.  Excerpt:

A growing achievement gap between Asian American students and their white classmates is due largely to greater work effort and cultural attitudes, not innate cognitive ability, researchers say.
In a study published Monday in the journal PNAS, two sociology professors found that Asian Americans enter school with no clear academic edge over whites, but that an advantage grows over time.  Even if they come from poorer, less educated families, Asian Americans significantly outperform white students by fifth grade, authors wrote.

"Asian and Asian American youth are harder working because of cultural beliefs that emphasize the strong connection between effort and achievement," the authors wrote. "Studies show that Asian and Asian American students tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that can be developed through effort, whereas white Americans tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that are inborn."...

Full story at

The actual study is at

UC prez Napolitano was asked about the affirmative action/Prop 209 issue in a recent TV interview and responded "cautiously."  Her response is at about minute 6:10 below:

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