© 2017

Solving the Achievement Gap

Overcoming the Structure of School Inequality


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 1-7
  3. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 9-12
  4. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 13-19
  5. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 21-39
  6. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 41-53
  7. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 55-79
  8. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 81-95
  9. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 97-110
  10. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 111-134
  11. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 135-140
  12. Stuart S. Yeh
    Pages 141-144
  13. Back Matter
    Pages 145-240

About this book


This book examines the cause of the student achievement gap, suggesting that the prevailing emphasis on socioeconomic factors, sociocultural influences, and teacher quality is misplaced. The cause of the achievement gap is not differences in parenting styles, or the economic advantages of middle-class parents, or differences in the quality of teachers. Instead, schools present learning tasks and award grades in ways that inadvertently undermine the self-efficacy, engagement, and effort of low-performing students, causing demoralization and exacerbating differences in achievement that are seen to exist as early as kindergarten. This process systematically maintains and widens initial gaps in achievement that might otherwise be expected to disappear over the K-12 years. Misdiagnosis of the nature of the achievement gap has led to misguided solutions. The author draws upon a range of research studies to support this view and to offer recommendations for improvement. 


achievement inequality policy teacher quality charter schools race reform

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

About the authors

Stuart S. Yeh is Associate Professor of Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota, USA. He has published numerous scholarly articles and two books regarding promising strategies for addressing the achievement gap, and has served as an invited expert at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Solving the Achievement Gap
  • Book Subtitle Overcoming the Structure of School Inequality
  • Authors Stuart S. Yeh
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages Education Education (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-58765-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-137-58766-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-58767-1
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 240
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Sociology of Education
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Quite intriguing...this book suggests that something bad is happening inside of our schools. I'm particularly fascinated by the idea that public schools function -- in the US at least -- as machines that destroy self-efficacy for all students, but are especially destructive for black and Hispanic children...I am hugely enthusiastic about the structural focus that places responsibility for the racial achievement gap squarely where it belongs -- with school practices and policies.” (William A. Darity, Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics and Director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, USA)


“This book will generate substantial controversy in the educational policy field. It discredits several widely held and popular explanations for racial and ethnic disparities in test scores and other measures of academic achievement.  It debunks some of the most widely cherished and heralded views held by economists and other policy analysts  while carefully documenting and detailing how and why conventional solutions will not work. The book is a must read for anyone who thinks the debate has ended about how to narrow the achievement gap.” (Samuel L. Myers, Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice and Director of the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice at the University of Minnesota, USA)

“A clear and compelling analysis and explanation of educational strategies that can be extremely helpful in reducing disparities in academic achievement.” (Pedro A. Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education and Director of the Center for the Study of School Transformation at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California--Los Angeles, USA)

“Yeh offers a bold new explanation for the persistently lower education success outcomes that have been observed in low-income minority students across the K-12 spectrum. His book not only critiques existing theories of the ‘achievement gap’ with cogent and extensive analysis, it presents a potent model for correcting structural elements in the American education system that could significantly reduce the problem.” (Lyn Corno, Professor of Education and Psychology (retired), Columbia University, USA, and Editor, Teachers College Record)

“Prof. Yeh offers a cogent and compelling synthesis of research findings from education, psychology, and economics, charting a path with great promise for addressing persistent gaps in performance among groups defined by income as well as race and ethnicity. His analysis points the way to higher achievement for all students. Equally important, it offers a positive vision of schools where students enjoy school more, and are truly motivated to learn.” (Edward Haertel, Jacks Family Professor of Education, Emeritus, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University, USA, and Vice-President, National Academy of Education)