How Social Factors, Such as Discrimination and Racial Profiling, Affect the Achievement Gap in Majority White Schools


by : 
Sarah M


In PAUSD, 85% of white students are meeting the standards for English and Math, while only 45% of African Americans are meeting the English standards and 35% are meeting the standard for Math (Kolar, 2017); one of many examples of the achievement gap in the district. Social dynamics between races are one cause of this achievement gap; these race-based social stressors, such as stereotype threat and fear of discrimination, release cortisol, a steroid hormone that increases when the body is stressed and causes loss in motivation, concentration, weaker memory, and weaken performance (Adams, 2016). Analyzing state-mandated test scores for all PAUSD students from Kindergarten through 12th grade will help illuminate when social dynamics start to have an effect on the achievement gap, and interviewing the PAUSD equity coordinator and Paly Black Student Union advisor will help illustrate the culture in PAUSD and how discrimination affects minority students.