Studies show Hispanic and African Americans are far below their Asian and white counterparts in terms of graduation rates. Schools, sociologists, and thought leaders...

By Grace Austin

A gap in achievement scores still exists between whites and minorities. This is true for all minorities, including Hispanics and Native Americans. Attempts to close proficiency gaps have been spotty, sometimes successful and sometimes failures. Schools, sociologists, and thought leaders across the country have been debating this question for years: why do minority test scores still lag behind whites?

Studies show Hispanic and African Americans are far below their Asian and white counterparts in terms of graduation rates. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Asian and Pacific Islanders have the largest percentage of high school graduates, with almost 90%; whites are not far behind, while 84% of blacks receive their high school diploma. Hispanics, meanwhile, have a total population of 63% that receive high school educations, with Mexicans the lowest portion of this demographic, at 57%.

College graduates are dramatically lower for all ethnicities, with 13.9% of those with Hispanic origins receiving their college degree, and only 20% of blacks.

Cultural and Environmental Factors

Those raised in poverty are shown to have lower achievement scores overall. Many children that are poor lack stability, proper nutrition, and sufficient medical care, which affects development. This is not a deciding factor though; there are many low-income students who go on to receive higher education degrees despite overwhelming factors against them. There are also many high-poverty and high-minority schools throughout the country that are high-achieving, most notably in Houston, Boston, and Detroit.

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Experts say the problem stems from entrenched familial factors as simple as skipping breakfast, watching too much television, and reading less. Indeed, parenting influence has been the strongest determinant of a child’s education. For instance, many Asian parents have been cited as applying strict rules to all aspects of their children’s lives in order to make them “successful.” Several noted books, including Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua, have acknowledged this phenomenon. By the same token, sociologists Christopher Jencks and Meredith Phillips have argued in The Black-White Test Score Gap that minority parents do not encourage early education because they do not see personal benefits in academics.

Many experts blame parents for not creating an environment promoting education and academics. Instead, parents often stress that their kids avoid gangs, drugs, and stay out of prisons. Unfortunately, these low expectations also lead to low self-confidence and little ambition.

African-American leaders like Bill Cosby have led unofficial campaigns stressing the importance of education to parents and students. Cosby emphasizes parenting and education in the African-American community, having personally endowed millions of dollars to educational outreach at schools like HBCU Spelman College.

Structural and Governmental Factors

Institutional factors can often contribute to an achievement gap in testing. Many minority students do not have access to the advantages that other students do, including better trained teachers and more educational resources. This is often related back to their residency in lower-income areas. Children of more affluent families can often afford test preparation materials and services, which can affect test scores as well.

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Some organizations, like Fair Test, The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, blame test scores for a lack of minority college students and graduates. Fair Test believes that “rigid use of SATs for college admissions will produce freshman classes with very few minorities.” Fair Test reports that colleges which have made the SAT optional have more diversity among applicants and no less academic quality.

Fair Test and other watch-dog groups have blamed low minority achievement scores on government policies, like Bush-era No Child Left Behind, which attempted to standardize all testing nationally. The Obama administration has instituted the Race to the Top (RTTT) program, which provides grants to states that produce measurable changes in student achievement. One major goal of RTTT is to close the achievement gap between blacks and whites.

Obama also renewed the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in 2010, which attempts to improve Hispanic/Latino access to education by reaching out to communities, establishing a network of community leaders to advise the president, and forming a group to exchange resources and discuss issues in the Hispanic/Latino community.

NPOs like Excelencia in Education have attempted to use collaborative action to increase educational attainment for Latinos and Hispanics. Excelencia in Education created an initiative in 2010, Ensuring America’s Future by Increasing Latino College Completion, in an effort to improve the number of Latinos that finish their degrees.

How Things can be Changed

Recruiting minority teachers and administrators and improving minority-outreach programs is often key to improved grades and test performance. Minority teachers and administrators have the benefit of more inside knowledge about minority students. Outreach programs are also valuable for introducing families, especially immigrant families that may not speak English, to educational programs and the benefits of education for their children.

Parents are an important part, if not the most important, of changing kids’ attitudes and achievements. Parents who attend teacher conferences and college nights demonstrate to children that they are keeping tabs on academic performance.

Having a parent, teacher, friend, or mentor who is encouraging is important. Programs like Big Brother, Big Sister give less fortunate kids the opportunity to have a mentor that encourages them and acts as a role model.

Outside the classroom, initiatives like afterschool programs have helped improve scores for minority students in Wisconsin. Technology can also be used as a complement to regular teaching. There are many websites that feature tutorials in math and other subjects, which can greatly benefit kids that need a little extra help.

  • Bob

    June 1, 2012 #1 Author

    A gap in achievement scores still exists between whites and minorities. This is true for all minorities

    Actually Asians score higher than whites.


    • Sam Norte

      December 1, 2012 #2 Author

      That is not true due to the fact that many non-whites are actually grouped in with whites, so the statistics are flawed. If we were ot look at true full blooded Caucasians and compare them to Asians then you would see a completely different picture.

      The stats for blacks are worse than they appear because the majority of blacks in the US have some degree of white ancestry which will inevitably make it easier for them to pass second grade. If we were to do an honest assessment of those who are truly black, then things would look completely different.


      • Chris

        July 15, 2020 #3 Author

        Our comments demonstrate our intelligence, or lack thereof. Factual, recorded history documents that whites have been more violent in the United States, and less intelligent when evenly matched against minorities. Your comments are disappointing, yet valuable. Thanks for sharing your thought process which contributes negatively throughout the communities in the United States. Thanks again.


        • Henry

          February 25, 2022 #4 Author

          Cite source or admit you lied, please.


    • David Sims

      July 25, 2020 #5 Author

      The average IQ for whites isn't much different than that of Asians. It's about 103 as compared with 105. In the United States, many persons of Latino ancestry (a group having an average IQ of 92), are considered "white" for purposes of government statistics. Ways have to be found to correct for this non-white contamination of "white" statistical data.


  • ObserveAndActOnIt

    September 28, 2012 #6 Author

    Title is grossly miss leading. One minority is by far ahead of the pack, east Asians. Whites, despite all the privilege and favoritism is depending less on IQ and more on power struggle for success.


  • SV

    April 25, 2013 #7 Author

    It is also important to keep in mind that not ALL Asians are doing better than whites. To better understand the demographic it is important to break down the data and look at specific Asian ethnic groups that are doing well.


  • John Prewett

    August 11, 2014 #8 Author

    Blacks are at bottom of every list involving intelligence.
    Blacks are at top of every list of violent criminality.

    Reason is not “racism”.

    Reason is that on average blacks are lower IQ and more violence prone.

    Search engine: “IQ gap” Of course there is considerable overlap.

    The more violence prone is NOT due to intrinsic moral inferiority.

    It is due to ideological environment American blacks are steeped into from birth.
    A Federal government officially endorsed ideology that teaches
    blacks are victims of white oppression and whites collectively are to blame.

    Enactment of “Affirmative Action” endorsed this “whites are to blame” collective guilt of whites doctrine.

    A significant faction of blacks interpreted this as justification for all manner of crime against the evil white oppressors.

    Also, In the past manual labor was more needed and respected.
    As society has technologically advanced, it has become harder and harder for low IQ people to make a decent honest living.

    This disproportionately destructively impacted Black families.

    Federal government welfare policy also disproportionately destructively impacted Black families.

    Entertainment industry also disproportionately destructively
    impacted Black families.

    NONE of these destructive factors were created by common whites or blacks.

    They were created by assorted “elites” and imposed on America in spite of opposition from many of both colors who warned of their destructive nature.


    • r

      October 2, 2019 #9 Author

      yet whites enacted slavery … and hell on earth for those of color


  • joseph

    February 25, 2019 #10 Author

    This is facts. Take the hiset exam for instance. The world is so prejudice, that we don’t know the real results of any tests. Blacks IQ tests results are low because more than likely we are not receiving the same tests or results. The hiset exam admits that some tests given to students may be harder than others, but cleans it up with claiming scaled scores. But, nine times out of ten. Whites are given the easier tests while blacks are not. Success brings confidence while failure clearly does not. So, my point is, if you are being set up for failure in every way? How can anyone really know what anyone’s true IQ is? Walk in some black shoes (not literally black shoes) but if you were really able to see the world through black eyes. The word IQ would never come out of your mouth ever again. And for the record i am BLACK, with an associates degree and working on the bachelors on to the next. “Statistics can not be trusted by those who play by fake rules.”


    • WinstonWolfe

      February 27, 2019 #11 Author

      “But, nine times out of ten. Whites are given the easier tests while blacks are not.” Could you cite your source for this? I believe you are impugning the integrity of the HiSET exam scores. It’s hard to discern your point due to your grammar. You should to cite a source or to back up your claim that blacks are “being set up for failure in every way.” White and black students sit side-by-side in classrooms and receive identical educations. “The world is so prejudice” is not an adequate explanation to justify the difference in black and white test scores. IQ, however, is a quantifiable, trusted measure of cognitive ability that explains the differences in academic performance. Also, I am not sure what your final quote means. From the way it is written, you evidently do not trust statistics because you play by fake rules. Maybe if you were to stay away from fake rules and excuses, you may find more success.


      • T

        April 4, 2019 #12 Author

        ” IQ, however, is a quantifiable, trusted measure of cognitive ability that explains the differences in academic performance”. Let me help you all out WW read my words, There-is-No-such-thing-as-a-IQ test. Let that sink in. ALL tests are tests of an Individuals Knowledge. No one has sat down and had what is called Intelligence tested ever. But because you have been told the opposite, you will continue to deny or not even consider this obvious truth. You, we all have been lied to on a monumental scale and are at least partly to blame due to our failure to question what we are taught. Show me the test results gained after you were delivered immediately after your birth and i will consider it as what you claim to be IQ testing. Beyond that a test only seeks to determine your knowledge of any subject, so called culture, events etc. It does not matter that you call it an Intelligence test, with the exception of peoples opinion including that of the test taker. Stop accepting all of the lies, such as identifying yourself as a color (most likely the wrong color at that) rather than a Human Being. The vast number of people described as Black are actually Brown in color and the vast majority of people described as White are not and are a nice Human color, tan,beige. I have seen no one, not even albinos that blend with the color white. Ooops, I drifted a little forgive me. I recall at one time the government or someone kept stats of international exchange students and for time Africans scored higher than all others. We have been trained to believe that test scores indicate Intelligence while ignoring the reality of real differences that Knowledge like….Interest, Exposure, Desire, Memory,Time……………….Peace


  • T

    April 4, 2019 #13 Author

    There is no such thing as an IQ test Period. If there were they would have tested you long before you ever spent any time for them to think that you knew anything. Like at your Birth. Stop believing the Lies. If you and your friend or whoever get lost in the Woods, Desert, Mountains, wherever you are likely to find yourself out of your element and with or without your High IQ test score or High IQ test score companion you would do well to find someone who lives,survives there and has never had a so called formal education and would most certainly not score very high on any IQ test you could subject them to and make friends. Shalom


  • JO

    September 20, 2019 #14 Author

    School in Florida had 88% of Af-Am reading proficiently by 3rd grade. Came back used those protocols and got 100% of kinder students reading fluently by middle of kinder year. When one uses the protocols used at high performing school – then it is easy to teach just about everyone to read. Got kicked to new school each time I stood up and advocated for changing reading protocols. Protocol – make students identify about 45-60 letter sounds in 60 seconds and teach them to blend – Never had a child who could do this who couldn't read.


  • Brian Hernando

    November 7, 2019 #15 Author

    You left out i.q. and I'm sure You did this on purpose to present the case Browns and blacks are victims of racism. This article is poorly written and meant to decieve the reader


  • Bubba

    January 2, 2021 #16 Author

    Are black students spoken to by teachers who speak “official tested American English”? Or are they spoken to by teachers who speak black slang English “AKA Black American Vernacular English”? Which is a slang language that will not help you at all on standardized testing.


  • Margo

    March 23, 2021 #17 Author

    I personally and close to me know people from minorities and majorities who came out of deep poverty and made it to the top. Parents were the difference:They instilled in their children the need and importance of education and hard work. And racist democrats are also the MAIN difference:1) They have a hold on education and promote false "self esteem" and lack of ambition, and graduate minorities who have been undereducated in lower ranking courses. 2) They infiltrate minority families under the pretension of being the "caring" and "giving" party and through brainwashing they dilute all parental responsibilities towards their children's education promoting instead the idea that the schools are solely accountable and responsible for their kids education. 3) welfare and many other programs started by FDR that helped brake families units by funding fatherless homes and promoting dependency and need for government hand downs.


  • IncredibleDr

    May 22, 2021 #18 Author

    So its not the poverty or area as much as its parenting. Thats what this article says.
    Unstable lives, bad nutrition…thats parenting.


  • DM Anderson

    March 19, 2022 #19 Author

    "This is true for all minorities."
    False: Asians are minorities. Ashkenazi Jews are seen as minorities by many.
    Both groups outperform Blacks, Hispanics and European-Americans.


  • DM Anderson

    March 19, 2022 #20 Author

    "Many children that are poor lack stability, proper nutrition, and sufficient medical care, which affects development."
    WHAT? Have you looked at the average BB or Football player in inner city High Schools?


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