Research Paper on Stereotype Threat

1655 Words Nov 4th, 2012 7 Pages
Stereotype Threat in a High Stakes Testing Environment
Jennifer J. Krebs
Wilkes University

Given the rapidly changing demographics of today’s classrooms combined with the high-stakes testing environment created by the passage of No Child Left Behind, it is important to understand potential explanations for the persistence of achievement gaps. Explanations for the achievement gap have included high populations of English Language Learners (ELLs), socioeconomic issues, lack of resources at the school, teacher, and student levels, and even inherent differences in the intellectual abilities of stereotyped and non-stereotyped groups. A theory developed by Steele and Aronson, called stereotype threat, provided a radical view into
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In one school, nearly half of the students interviewed said that race matters for school success. At another school, students expressed frustration with being racial targets and felt they had done nothing to provoke degrading views from their classmates. Furthermore, in a remedial English classroom consisting of eight students, the researcher noticed a common occurrence. Five of the students in this classroom were Latino, and three were white. The white students all had learning disabilities which hindered their language usage, while the Latino students’ only handicap was that English was not their native language (Nunn, 2011). Combining ELLs with students with disabilities effectively treats the native language of ELLs as a learning disability. Between the racial views of the students and the systematic reinforcement of prejudices, it is easy to understand why students tend to hold views that race matters for success. The question that remains is how does this knowledge of stereotypes affect student academic performance? McKown and Strambler (2009) conducted a study of 124 students ranging in age from grades K-4 in a suburban Chicago area. The students were given a series of vignettes to determine their ability to identify stereotypes and then placed in diagnostic or non-diagnostic groups to complete performance tasks. Consistent with prior research, minority participants in

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