Journal Article: More than one gap: Dropout rate gaps between and among Black, Hispanic, and White students


Academic Achievement, Blacks, Hispanics, School Dropouts, Whites, Minority Groups


Carpenter, Dick M., II; Ramirez, Al


2008, Fal


The achievement gap, traditionally measured by test scores, also can be documented by dropout behavior. Examining dropout behavior among Black, White, and Hispanic students, with a particular focus on gaps within groups and not just between Whites and minorities, shows a clearer picture of the achievement gap. The results of our study show multiple achievement gaps both between and within groups, ultimately concluding that within-group gaps were often more significant than gaps between groups. Through hierarchical linear modeling, we found two common predictors for all three groups--being held back and number of suspensions. Hispanic and White students showed three additional predictors in common--time spent on homework, gender, and family composition. White and Black students shared only one common predictor beyond suspensions and being held back: parental involvement. Black and Hispanic students shared no additional common predictors. Finally, race/ethnicity generally proved not to be significant predictor of dropping out. Gaps within groups may be more significant than those between groups. Such differences further reinforce our concern about the practice of establishing policy initiatives that conflate all minority group students into a monolithic whole. Our research suggests that policy makers and school leaders should craft dropout prevention policies and programs with sufficient flexibility to allow school-level personnel to individualize said policies and practices based on local conditions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA ) (journal abstract)


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