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Volume 21, Number 1
January/February 2005

Beyond the Gap

What educators and researchers are learning from high-achieving African American and Latino students


Seventeen-year-old Deryle Daniels Jr. serves on his school's junior class council, plays varsity football and basketball, and participates in the Youth Leadership Institute. A student at Chapel Hill (N.C.) High School, Daniels maintains a 3.8 grade-point average. He is one of four African American students in his AP U.S. history class this year, is one of three in junior honors English, and was the only African American student in his AP world history class last year.

While closing the widely publicized "achievement gap" is a high priority for the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN), an equally important item on the group's agenda is to understand what makes students like Daniels tick. Why do some African American and Latino students thrive while others-even those from well-educated, middle-class families-underachieve relative to their white and Asian American peers?

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

P.J. Cook and J. Ludwig. "The Burden of 'Acting White': Do Black Adolescents Disparage Academic Achievement?" In C. Jencks and M. Phillips, eds., The Black-White Test Score Gap. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1998, pp. 375-400.

W. Darity Jr., D. Castellino, and K. Tyson. "Increasing Opportunity to Learn via Access to Rigorous Courses and Programs: One Strategy for Closing the Achievement Gap for At-Risk and Ethnic Minority Students." Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2000.

A. Datnow and R. Cooper. "Peer Networks of African American Students in Independent Schools: Affirming Academic Success and Racial Identity." Journal of Negro Education 66, no. 1 (Winter 1997): 56-72.

Education Trust. Latino Achievement in America. Washington, DC: Author, 2003.

R.F. Ferguson. "A Diagnostic Analysis of Black-White GPA Disparities in Shaker Heights, Ohio." Brookings Papers on Education Policy 2001. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2001.

S. Fordham and J. Ogbu. "Black Students and School Success: Coping with the Burden of Acting White." Urban Review 18 (1986): 176-206.

Minority Student Achievement Network, 1600 Dodge Ave., Evanston, IL 60204; tel: 847-424-7185; email:

P.A. Noguera. "Joaquín's Dilemma: Understanding the Link Between Racial Identity and School-Related Behaviors." In M. Sadowski, ed., Adolescents at School: Perspectives on Youth, Identity, and Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2003.

T. Perry, C. Steele, and A. Hilliard III. Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Achievement among African American Students. Boston: Beacon Press, 2003.

K. Tyson, W. Darity Jr., and D. Castellino. "Breeding Animosity: The 'Burden of Acting White' and Other Problems of Status Group Hierarchies in Schools." Publication forthcoming. For information, contact: