Why Black Students Continue To Underachieve?

As the national conversation about race and education continues, at least one question remains: why do black students still underperform academically?

In today’s society, black students are the most highly educated population. Despite this, there is still a gap in achievement outcomes for African-American children compared to their white counterparts in schools nationwide. 

There have been many explanations as to why black students continue underachievement despite being well-educated and high achievers such as poverty and social isolation within the community at large. However, one factor that has not received enough attention from scholars of education is how racism impacts black students in their classrooms. 

This article will explore how the effects of racism include a lack of positive relationships with teachers, higher rates of suspension, and lower test scores for African-American children compared to white children. We’ll also explore three reasons that help explain the continuing pattern of low academic achievement among African-American youth.


Why do black children underachieve in education?

The reader should think critically about the assumption that Blacks are genetically inferior when it comes to intellectual capacity and achievement.

The IQ test is one of the most commonly used tests to gauge intelligence and academic achievement. However, there was no significant relationship between black children’s performance on these tests with their school grades in Shaker Heights.

This research suggests that other factors are at play when it comes to determining how a child performs academically as opposed to just an innate intelligence level or genetic predisposition for success.

His argument is that African American children are not underachieving because of cultural differences, but rather because they face similar obstacles as immigrants from Asia and South America. 

Ogbu argues that the relationship between African Americans and White Americans is comparable to the naturalization process for Asian immigrants in America where an immigrant must be willing to adapt their culture around those who have already settled into society’s norms before becoming a citizen.

The most important reason is that the racial tension in American schools makes it difficult for black students to learn. The U.S school history has been a goal of assimilation, which means white Americans are taught from childhood about their superiority through education and media outlets such as films and books so they can feel confident when competing with other races for jobs or wealth. 

This leads to competition between minority groups because people have differing levels of educational attainment due to past experiences, making them less likely not only to be hired but also to be hired for higher positions.

What are some of the major causes of underachievement?

The United States has seen multiple attempts to narrow the racial achievement gap, but black students still continue to underachieve. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this such as cultural and social barriers, lack of funding for schools with high minority populations, and limited access to quality education among other things.

The consequences of the achievement gap will still be felt for many years, particularly in terms of employment. In order to close this gap, it is necessary to address systemic issues such as poverty and lack of access to quality education.

The US Justice Department argued that Yale University discriminated against Asian candidates on the basis of their race. However, most attempts to narrow this achievement gap have been met with resistance because there is no single answer as to why black students continue underachievement.

In order for schools and communities like these in which young people are struggling academically, it’s critical for them to address the issue head-on by finding out what factors contribute towards this inequality and implementing programs that can help improve student performance across the board.

Many of the factors contributing to students’ underachievement are related to their educational needs. Students need higher education, special skills and more supports when entering the workforce due to a changing job market in recent years which is also one of many reasons why they continue not meeting these demands.

Additionally, government-led initiatives such as smaller school-based initiatives were made by schools with hopes of counteracting some effects on achievement gaps in schools.

Some of the causes of underachievement in black youths are summarized below as:

Racism in Institutions

According to A. W. Boykin, intellectual enslavement caused by oppression and racism is a big problem in American classrooms. According to Boykin, White and Black school officials embody this cycle of racism and oppression toward Black pupils by their acts and manner. When American standards are contrasted with African American values, American authorities regard their own as superior.

Self-Destructive Behavior

Many African American students think that the American Dream was never intended for them (and to a certain extent they are right). Black parents encourage their children to strive for the American Dream and to follow social standards, but they also train them to be cautious and attentive when dealing with “whites,” “sambos,” and “good blacks” who function as establishment puppets. This fosters cultural schism and a climate of distrust.

Influences from Family

In the United States today, more than 63 percent of African American children come from single-parent families, with the mother serving as the primary caregiver in the majority of cases. Because there is no strong male role model in the house, the boys are more likely to fail school and get into trouble. 

Because the mother’s time is so limited, the girls in the household are in danger of becoming pregnant as teenagers. To be clear, I firmly think that a Black woman can successfully raise an African American guy on her own, but why should she have to do so alone?

Socioeconomic Status is Low

African American children, unlike their White counterparts, are more likely to be born into a home with an income that is at or below the poverty line. They tend to reside in impoverished communities with fewer educational opportunities and even fewer role models of scholastic and economic achievement. 

The great majority of youngsters in such situations are persuaded to feel that there is no other way for them to live.

Schools That Are Failing

Unfortunately, failed schools are synonymous with living in impoverished communities. These schools lack the resources to compete with schools in more affluent communities, which have more money for books, computers, wages, and so on. 

As a result, less affluent schools have a more difficult time attracting well-trained teachers and administrators. In such cases, students may be written off, forgotten, or simply passed from school to grade. Those who do remain to graduation are typically unprepared for college or the workforce.

Cultural Disparities

The distinctiveness of African American culture distinguishes it from other cultures and, as a result, is frequently perceived negatively. African American hairstyles, clothing, music, body language, and vocal communication styles might be unnerving to a conformist culture. It is critical to evaluate the effect of culture on the definition and perception of behaviours when describing or detecting behavioural disorders in a group of children.

Drug Abuse and Crime

It is no secret that the vast majority of persons detained in the United States’ prisons are young African American males. We may believe that law enforcement has a racial prejudice, but the truth is that the scene is prepared long before the handcuffs are applied.

Drug misuse and criminality are all-too-common effects of young people’s incapacity to overcome risk factors such as single-parent families, poverty, failing schools, and cultural disparities. As vulnerable young people become confused and alienated by their surroundings, they seek physical and emotional control in the only methods they believe are accessible to drug use and crime.

A scarcity of African American teachers

When educational systems were formally segregated, Black children went to schools mostly administered by experienced Black educators. These teachers and administrators were in fact more qualified and experienced than their White colleagues (Southern Education Reporting Service, 1959). African American teachers are important in the lives of Black students because they frequently serve as disciplinarians, counsellors, and role models in the absence of missing parental figures.

Inadequate Parental Involvement

In fact, parental participation is the strongest predictor of a student’s academic accomplishment. Parental participation highlights the value of education to the student, resulting in improved student attitudes, morality, and academic accomplishment. Active parental involvement also leads to increased attendance, reduced dropout rates, fewer disciplinary issues, and stronger life ambitions. Children with uninvolved parents, on the other hand, are more likely to suffer academically and develop behavioural issues.

Why Improving black students’ learning doesn’t “start at home.”

In order to improve black male students’ learning, educators need to start looking outside of the home. Educators are often criticized for focusing too much on what students do at home, and not enough on how schools could be better in the first place.

However, if Black males continue to underachieve disproportionately compared to their peers from other races or ethnicities then we as educators not only fail them but also fail ourselves.

The civil rights movement fought for equal treatment under the law and equal educational opportunities. However, despite these efforts, black students continue to under-achieve academically because of a lack of African American teachers in high schools across America.

The main reason for black children’s underachievement is due to lack of engagement and personal problems. Many African American children do not realize school should be their first priority, but they often fall into negative patterns because their neighbours are struggling with the same issues. Furthermore, Black people doing poorly relative to white people has been going on since slavery began in America.

Black students continue to underachieve in schools because of the difficult issues that exist outside of the school and at home. This includes, but is not limited to, teachers’ fears of black young people and gun violence, high rates of poverty within urban environments, a lack of motivation by school personnel, poor study habits and other priorities that derailed the academic effort.