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The Attitude-Achievement Paradox Among Black Adolescents

Roslyn Arlin Mickelson
Sociology of Education
Vol. 63, No. 1 (Jan., 1990), pp. 44-61
DOI: 10.2307/2112896
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2112896
Page Count: 18
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The Attitude-Achievement Paradox Among Black Adolescents
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Abstract

Many black youths and adults express a high regard for education even though their academic performance is poor. Utilizing a sample of 1,193 high school seniors, this article resolves the attitude-achievement paradox by demonstrating that attitudes toward education are multidimensional. The first dimension is composed of abstract attitudes that reflect the dominant ideology. The second dimension is composed of concrete attitudes that inform achievement behavior. Unlike abstract attitudes, these concrete attitudes are rooted in life experience in which educational credentials may not be fairly rewarded by the opportunity structure. The paradox of poor grades but positive attitudes toward education among blacks vanishes when concrete, rather than abstract, attitudes are related to high school grades. Substantively, the study reported in this article illustrates how race and class, which are large components of the social context of achievement, influence school outcomes.

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