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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Imprimir: 1072-8325
ISSN En Línea: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2013001748
pages 295-314

TOO SMALL TO SEE? AFRICAN-AMERICAN UNDER-ENROLLMENT IN ADVANCED HIGH SCHOOL COURSES

Mamadi Corra
East Carolina University, Department of Sociology, A-420 Brewster, Greenville, NC 27858
Michael J. Lovaglia
University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1401

SINOPSIS

Stereotype threat, differential expectations, and social isolation research suggest that student expectations of the social consequences of academic distinction may exacerbate the underrepresentation of African-American students in advanced academic courses. The hypothesis that capable African-American students who might be expected to enroll in advanced academic courses are instead taking standard courses is tested using academic performance and enrollment data for high school students in a student/parent informed choice (open registration) school district. Under open enrollment, all students are allowed the choice to enroll in advanced classes. Therefore, school districts with such policies provide a strategic link between individual-level theories of student behavior and district-level data such as enrollment rates in Advanced Placement classes. The results show that African-American students are underrepresented in advanced academic courses (Advanced Placement and honors classes) compared to their proportion of the student body. More surprisingly, African-American students are also underrepresented in advanced courses compared to their proportion of high-performing students. Taken together, the findings suggest that well-qualified African-American students who might be expected to take advanced courses are instead taking standard courses. The implications of the findings on the potential impact of increased opportunities for advanced courses for minority students are discussed.