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Racial and SES Differences in School Behavior Ronald F Ferguson Ph D Faculty Co Chair and Director of the Achievement Gap Initiative Lecturer in Public Policy and Sr Research Associate Wiener Center or Social Policy John F Kennedy School of Government 2nd Annual Conference of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University June 19 2006 Percent responding somewhat true mostly true or totally true that My behavior is a problem for the teacher in this class 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 36 33 32 25 24 22 19 23 23 20 17 15 11 11 8 Black Hispanic Middle School Males Middle School Females White Asian High School Males High School Females 9 Percent responding somewhat true mostly true or totally true that My behavior is a problem for the teacher in this class 40 Blacks 35 Whites 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 9 12 14 16 18 9 12 14 16 18 Mother s Years of Schooling Male Female Male Female Percent responding that at least sometimes People would probably describe my behavior style as ghetto 70 Blacks Whites 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 9 12 14 16 18 9 12 14 16 18 Mother s Years of Schooling Male Female Male Female Percent within each race ethnic group selecting each response to My friends think it s important to work hard to get high grades MALES Never Usually Not Sometimes Usually Always Row Total Black n 1095 7 6 12 2 36 8 26 2 17 2 100 White n 2776 8 3 13 7 35 8 31 2 11 0 100 Hispanic n 562 6 8 13 4 35 1 30 3 14 6 100 Asian n 220 7 7 7 7 31 8 35 5 18 2 100 Source Calculations by Ron Ferguson using Tripod Project data for 6th to 12th graders collected spring 2005 from 17 secondary schools in NJ CT OH NM MA and CA Percent within each race ethnic group giving each response to My friends think it s important to work hard to get high grades FEMALES Never Usually Some Usually Not times Always Row Total Black n 1088 5 9 10 0 35 3 30 1 18 8 100 White n 2732 3 9 8 1 31 6 37 1 19 4 100 Hispanic n 624 3 7 11 5 38 9 27 4 18 4 100 Asian n 184 2 2 4 4 23 4 41 8 28 3 100 Source Calculations by Ron Ferguson using Tripod Project data for 6th to 12th graders collected spring 2005 from 17 secondary schools in NJ CT OH NM MA and CA Who are black youth trying to be What gives them self esteem i e 1 On the whole I am satisfied with myself 2 I feel that I am a person of worth at least on an equal basis with others 3 I take a positive attitude toward myself Self Esteem by GPA for black and white Middle School Students 0 4 0 2 0 0 2 D Range C Range B Range A Range 0 4 0 6 0 8 Black Males White Males Black Females White Females Self Esteem by GPA for black and white High School Students 0 4 0 2 0 0 2 D Range C Range B Range A Range 0 4 0 6 0 8 1 Black Males White Males Black Females White Females Self Esteem for male and female teenagers related to whether rap or hip hop music is always usually sometimes usually not or never an important part of my life 0 4 0 3 0 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 3 0 4 0 5 Never Not Sometimes Usually Usually Black White Hispanic Always Asian Source Calculations by Ron Ferguson using Tripod Project data for 6th to 12th graders collected spring 2005 from 17 secondary schools in NJ CT OH NM MA and CA Self Esteem for male and female teenagers related to whether rock music is always usually sometimes usually not or never an important part of my life 0 3 0 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 3 0 4 Never Not Sometimes Usually Usually Black White Hispanic Always Asian Source Calculations by Ron Ferguson using Tripod Project data for 6th to 12th graders collected spring 2005 from 17 secondary schools in NJ CT OH NM MA and CA Self esteem by GPA and by whether Hip Hop music is usually or always an important part of my life for black teenagers 0 6 0 4 0 2 0 0 2 D Range C Range B Range A Range 0 4 0 6 0 8 Black Males Low HipHop Black Males High HipHop Black Females Low HipHop Black Females High HipHop Bottom line There are very few racial differences in the belief that working hard to get high grades in school is important However there may be social pressures and lifestyle patterns that differ by race in ways that favor the accumulation of reading and math skills by white and Asian as compared with black and Hispanic children The politics of addressing these issues openly in a white supremacist society may be difficult but they are important to engage even as we work also to address the more structural forces that remain important impediments to equality Why black high school students with A range GPA s agree somewhat more than black students with C range grades with the statement that At this school students like me get accused of acting white Percentages of the predicted difference attributable to each listed factor Has Other Race Friends 3 Leisure Reading 4 Chat on Computer 10 GPA 0 Speaks Proper English 25 Trusts Peers Even if Strangers 24 Listens to Rock Music 34


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