28 Jul 2022


The Impact of Race in Education

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Academic level: College

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The first article is by Amira Mattison and her colleagues ‘ Early Elementary Teacher Ratings of Behavior as Predictors of Grade Retention: Race, Gender, and Socioeconomic Status as Potential Moderators’  it focuses more on grade retention among students (Mattison et al., 2018). Grade retention has always been used as an educational framework in many schools in the USA. The notion underlying retention is that having the students repeating a specific grade gives them additional practice and time to master some particular concepts; thus, they become academically successful. Unfortunately, studies show that the retention never fulfills its intent. That notwithstanding, it has been shown that indeed many schools and regions compared to others have more cases of retention. It is shared among boys from low socioeconomic status. It has been shown that African American students are the ones who fall mostly within this category. The paper has focused principally on aspects of grade retention within different races and its disproportionality (Mattison et al., 2018).  

The second article is by Jamel Donnor and his colleagues titled  ‘The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Race, Education, and Critical Race Theory after 20 Years’    (Donnor et al., 2018).    It is a critical appraisal, and    the main idea from the journal involves historical transformations in learning and whether at the moment, the system is tolerant. The aspect of race and ethnicity is still under-theorized in education. Of course, institutionalized racism is a significant determinant in shaping student learning. Therefore, the element of critical theory and race are perspectives which are both timely and relevant. Accordingly, the paper has employed interdisciplinary approaches, methodologies, and constructs to contextualize and disentangle the cumulative impacts of such discrimination in schools (Donnor et al., 2018). 

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Another journal is by Stephen Caldas and Monique Reilly titled  ‘ The influence of race–ethnicity and physical activity levels on elementary school achievement’  (Caldas & Reilly, 2018). Here the authors focus on structural equation models to find connections between education and ethnicity/race of the students by using physical variables like an achievement in math and English language art (ELA). The application of confirmatory factor analysis is validated as an appropriate method. The physical features had both substantive and significant effects in cases of mathematic achievement and English language art (ELA). However, there was an apparent difference between white and black students. The gap in academic achievement among the races is enormous and enduring. The white students exceeded colored learners in performance both in math and ELA. However, the authors also look at the levels of inactivity and youth obesity, and the ranges still are more among the colored students (Caldas & Reilly, 2018).  

The other article is by Arlette Ingram Willis, where she looks at ‘ Race, Response to Intervention, and Reading Research ’  (Willis, 2019).    In the critique, aspect of the race is used to show the impact ethnicity has on defining the evolution of past, present, and future interventions. The writer focuses on critical race theory and its analytical lenses to capture how dominant approaches served to maintain political and institutional structures. The uses of the anti-discrimination policies and laws, in combination with the historical narratives, have been applied to show how the aspects intersect with education. In conclusion, the paper only provided limelight of why the response to action never worked on improving the achievement among all races or curtailing the racial disproportionality (Willis, 2019).  

Critique of the Articles 

The four articles have extensively covered the concept of race in education and the impact that it has on learning for students. Notably, what each author has elaborated is that the educational outcomes and results for the minority student are a reflection of the inequality experienced within the sector. Hitherto, what the articles have generally missed is that such issues mostly occur as a function of unequal access to the resources for learning, for instance, quality curriculum and skilled teachers. It is not predominantly a function of racism, as brought out in most of these studies. It is evident that the educational system within the United States is among the most unequal among the industrialized world. Students receive dramatically different opportunities in learning, depending on their social status. Thus all the reviewed journals tackled more on race, while issues like poverty and cultural difference are among the significant factors that affect education.  

Relevantly, it is apparent that the issue of grade retention does not work, but why is it used primarily for minority populations? It is crucial to note that college education is expensive, and most of this population lack sufficient funds to take the student to these universities (Mattison et al., 2018). Thus they have to remain in such classes to up their grades. The author is right to say that retention does not work, but provides no solution. The only reason retention is still applicable is due to the absence of other frameworks. 

Donnor et al. say that the more we think things have changed, the more they have stayed the same (2018). At some point, this is true, but again it crucial to note the government has cited that institutional racism comes as a result of disproportionality in socioeconomic status. Hence, it has made efforts to improve the livelihood of the minority groups, and this change is not static, and fruits can be seen in education reforms. The other authors have looked at the response to intervention and how the physical activities of students are affected by race (Caldas & Reilly, 2018: Willis, 2019). The two articles provide proper illustrations and viewpoints that are arguably accurate, and the government, in some instances, has failed in its response, thus leading to differences in educational quality among white and colored students.  

Implications and Recommendations 

Achieving equality in education is not a far-fetched concept that is entirely unattainable. The  National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future  has, in the past, provided a blueprint with a comprehensive set of action plans to ensure competence, care, and qualified or skilled teachers for all students. The federal government can give incentives, as they did in the case of health, to ensure proper preparation of teachers in places where there is a shortage. They can also equalize education spending, reduce teachers’ deficit, and enforce the highest instructional standards. 

Additionally, the schools in the districts can relocate resources from special add-on programs and superstructures to support the concept of education for the students of all races. Such aspects will help learners keep up with school, especially for those who are written-off by lives of poverty, incarceration, and welfare dependency. Such action plans have already shown that they can work because many students of color have improved on their achievement, and thus seen a 90% transition to college. A focus on what matters the most can make a difference in providing equal opportunity for all students despite their racial background.  


Caldas, S. J., & Reilly, M. S. (2018). The influence of race–ethnicity and physical activity levels on elementary school achievement.  The Journal of Educational Research 111 (4), 473-486. 

Donnor, J. K., Rousseau Anderson, C., & Dixson, A. D. (2018). The more things change the more they stay the same: Race, education, and critical race theory after 20 years: An appraisal. 

Mattison, A., Raffaele Mendez, L. M., Dedrick, R., Dickinson, S., Wingate, E., & Hanks, C. (2018). Early elementary teacher ratings of behavior as predictors of grade retention: Race, gender, and socioeconomic status as potential moderators.  Psychology in the Schools 55 (10), 1171-1187. 

Willis, A. I. (2019). Race, Response to Intervention, and Reading Research.  Journal of Literacy Research 51 (4), 394-419. 

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