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Constructing Cultural Difference and Educational Achievement in Schools

Publisher: Norwood, NJ: ABLEX
Page Numbers: 165-179

When culture and schools are talked about together in the United States, culture tends to be used as an explanation for why children from many nonmainstream homes -- the culturally different -- are less successful in school, on average, than mainstream children. This chapter draws attention to another explanation for student performance at school; that is, growing up as a member of a minority family and living in a minority community -- by virtue of skin color, native language, religion, and so forth -- is not the only means by which individuals share similar characteristics or learn the behaviors and attitudes they exhibit at school. Groups form and flourish at and around school, too. The authors argue that those wishing to improve the academic achievement and school outcomes of minority students must investigate how students are placed or place themselves in the groups that arise in relation to school and what cultural orientations toward school these groups hold. Interventions should accommodate school-related groups and cultural orientations, as well as those associated with ethnicity.