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Asian Americans as Model Minorities? A Look at Their Academic Performance

Grace Kao
American Journal of Education
Vol. 103, No. 2 (Feb., 1995), pp. 121-159
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1085574
Page Count: 39
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Asian Americans as Model Minorities? A Look at Their Academic Performance
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Abstract

The image of Asian-Americans as "model minorities" is driven, in part, by the high academic achievement of Asian-American children. To evaluate this characterization, I use the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) to compare Asian and white eighth graders on reading and math test scores and grades. Results indicate that the difference between Asians overall and whites on reading and math test scores can be explained by differences in family background. However, analyses by Asian subgroups reveal that Chinese, Korean, and Southeast Asian youth earn higher math scores while Pacific Islanders earn considerably lower math and reading scores than their white counterparts. Whites and Asians differ substantially in their grade performance, which suggests that cultural and behavioral differences may be an important influence on grades. Analyses of Asian subgroups show no statistical difference between ethnic groups, although only Southeast Asians earn perceivably higher grades than whites after controlling for the effects of family characteristics.

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