Massey, Douglas S.
Social Background and Academic Performance Differentials: White and Minority Students at Selective Colleges
Study the continuing consequences of segregation.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
American Law and Economics Review
Vol. 8, No. 2, pp.390-409
- Segregation, operating through a series of intervening variables, significantly depresses minority academic achievement long after students have left segregated circumstances behind them.
- Minority students attending segregated schools are exposed to significantly more social disorder and violence than either Whites or minorities from integrated schools.
- Blacks and Latinos from segregated schools display slightly higher levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy than Whites or minority students from integrated schools.
- Students from segregated circumstances experienced somewhat lower levels of susceptibility to peer influence than Whites or minorities from integrated backgrounds though the differences were not great.
- U.S. schools and neighborhoods are still substantially segregated by race, that segregated settings expose children to higher levels of violence and social disorder than integrated settings, and that segregated schools offer fewer resources to prepare students for college or university.
- People who grow up in segregated circumstances are exposed to high rates of violence and disorder over the long term, causing repeated stimulation of the body's stress response system and flooding the bloodstream with high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol (Kotulak, 1997; Ledoux, 1996).
- Students from segregated settings experienced greater exposure to stress hormones while growing up.
- Controlling for prior segregation experienced in schools and neighborhoods reduces the Black-White differential by 30% and the Latino-White differential by 33% though the achievement gap is by n o means eliminated.
- The coefficient for segregation reveals that shifting from complete integration to total segregation would lower GPA by 0.13 points, a highly significant effect.
- Both indicators of stress have strong and significant effects on collegiate grade attainment.
- Systematic tests indicated environmental stress was the strongest single effect in the model.
- Two different mechanisms: one passive and one active.
- 1)Passively , childhood segregation and the exposure to disorder and violence it brings exposes developing brains to a surfeit of stress hormones, which have been shown by recent work in neuroscience to reduce long- and short-term memory, limit attention, and lower frustration thresholds traits that are critical for academic achievement.
- 2) Actively, segregation is responsible for higher rates of exposure to negative life events among the family and friends of minority students, increasing the level of stress bearing down on them through their social networks to consume valuable emotional and material resources that could have been applied toward academics.
Journal Article Historical Analysis
Academic Achievement, Long Term Outcomes, Segregation, Violence
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- NLSFL-National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen, representative sample of the cohort of students entering 28 selective colleges and universities during the Fall of 1999.
- Creates indexes and compares them.