Mathematics Success and Failure Among African-American Youth: The Roles of Sociohistorical Context, Community Forces, School Influence, and Individual Agency

Written by Danny Bernard Martin, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000

No matter how mathematics achievement and persistence are measured, African Americans seem to lag behind their peers. This state of affairs is typically explained in terms of student ability, family background, differential treatment by teachers, and biased curricula. But what can explain disproportionately poor performance and persistence of African-American students who clearly possess the ability to do well, who come from varied family and socioeconomic backgrounds, who are taught by caring and concerned teachers, and who learn mathematics in the context of a reform-oriented mathematics curriculum? And, why do some African-American students succeed in mathematics when underachievement is the norm among their fellow students? Danny Martin addresses these questions in Mathematics Success and Failure Among African-American Youth, the results of a year-long ethnographic and observational study of African-American students and their parents and teachers.

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