African Americans and Boys: Understanding the Literacy Gap, Tracing Academic Trajectories, and Evaluating the Role of Learning-Related Skills

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In this study, the authors examined the racial and gender gap in the academic development of African American and White children from kindergarten to 5th grade. Their main goal was to determine the extent to which social and behavioral factors, including learning-related skills, problem behaviors, and interpersonal skills, explain these gaps and shed light on the academic difficulties specifically experienced by African American boys. The authors utilized the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) sample and applied growth curve modeling. Learning-related skills explained the literacy development of African American boys over and above the effects of problem behaviors, socioeconomic status, and home literacy environment. Results suggest that emphasis placed on the behavior problems and the social risk factors associated with African American boys needs to be refocused and should be accompanied by increased efforts to improve learning-related skills in the classroom context and beyond.



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