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At-Risk (incl. Dropout Prevention)
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Minority/Diversity Issues
Postsecondary Students--Minority
Student Achievement
Student Achievement--Closing the Achievement Gap

At approximately 42 million people, the African American community is the second largest minority group in the United States.

African Americans have historically suffered discrimination in this country, in housing, employment and education. The landmark civil rights case, Brown v. Board of Education, was a seminal moment in the education of African Americans. The 1954 ruling declared the doctrine of "separate but equal" facilities for African American and white children unconstitutional, becoming the impetus for desegregation and the civil rights movements.

The past few decades have seen much progress in the education of African Americans. More African Americans now complete high school and go on to college. As the parents of African American students are now more highly educated, the likelihood that their children also will be high school and college graduates increases. Standardized test scores have risen, and the number of African Americans living below the poverty level also has decreased.

Despite this progress, there are still persistent learning gaps between white children and African American children. African Americans score lower on standardized tests and have higher retention and dropout rates than white students. African American 4th, 8th and 12th graders score lower than white students on math, geography and history tests. Although great strides have been made in the integration of public schools, recent research shows that segregation is in many cases rising.

African American children face additional challenges. They are less likely than white or Hispanic children to live in a married, two-parent family and are more likely than white children to live in poverty. African American students also are more likely to be victims of crime — both violent and property — than their white or Hispanic counterparts.


National Center for Education Statistics, Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities, July 2010

The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, Brown at 50: King’s Dream or Plessy’s Nightmare?, January 2004

United States Census Bureau, Facts for Features: Black (African-American), July 2012


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