Faith and Family Play a Bigger Role in Academic Achievement Than Race or Socioeconomic Status

Feb 1, 2020 by

by William Jeynes, Public Discourse:

The phrase “achievement gap” refers to the well-documented discrepancies between the scholastic achievements of African American and Latinos on the one hand and white students on the other. What explains the gap? My meta-analysis revealed that if an African American or Latino student was a person of faith and came from a two biological parent family, the achievement gap totally disappeared, even when adjusting for socioeconomic status…

… There are two schools of thought regarding how best to eliminate the achievement gap. The first group calls on society to focus its attention on eliminating “opportunity gaps,” arguing that this will lead to higher academic achievement among currently disadvantaged students. These opportunity gaps include factors such as being a member of a racial minority, discrimination, poor nutrition, inadequate health care, not having access to high-quality public education, coming from a family in which the parents are poorly educated or do not speak English as their first language, and lack of internet and computer access.

A second group of scholars and community leaders is focused on reducing the “achievement gap.” They agree that addressing “opportunity gaps” must be part of the solution, but they caution that the causes of the achievement gap are complex. They go beyond the factors commonly identified as “opportunity gaps.” For example, this “achievement gap” group emphasizes that the personal decisions parents and children make regarding school have a considerable impact on the achievement gap. How involved will parents decide to become? How much will the household decide to emphasize faith in God, and the sense of purpose in life, and working hard to realize that purpose and please God, which normally follows?

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