High Performing Minority Learning

Exceptions to the achievement gap exist. Schools that are majority black, even poor, can perform well above national norms, with Whitney Young High School and Davidson Magnet School in Augusta, Georgia being prominent examples. Another school with remarkable gains for students of color is Amistad Academy in New Haven,Connecticut. All of the aforementioned schools generally offer more rigorous, traditional modes of instruction, including Direct Instruction. Direction Instruction was found to be the single most effective pedagogical method for raising the skill levels of inner-city students (Project Follow Through). High performing Black schools are not unique to the twentieth century. In Washington, DC in the late 19th century, a predominantly low income Black school performed higher than three White schools in yearly testing. This trend continued until the mid 20th century, and during that time the M Street School exceeded national norms on standardized tests.

Social researchers Carl L. Bankston III and Stephen J. Caldas have argued that the achievement gap, rather than overt racism, is the main source of continuing school segregation in the United States. In their books, A Troubled Dream: The Promise and Failure of School Desegregation in Louisiana (2002) and Forced to Fail: The Paradox of School Desegregation (2005), they maintain that students benefit academically from going to school with relatively high-achieving schoolmates and are academically disadvantaged when they have relatively low-achieving schoolmates. Therefore, a racial gap in achievement means that even parents without racial prejudices tend to avoid sending their children to schools with large percentages of minority students.