[guest post by Dana]
Guess what? Hard work, high expectations and commitment pay off.
We find that the Asian-American educational advantage over whites is attributable mainly to Asian students exerting greater academic effort and not to advantages in tested cognitive abilities or socio-demographics.
Also, no matter their economic background or the educational levels of their families, Asian American students typically surpass their white counterparts by the time they reach fifth grade.
“What accounts for Asians’ greater academic effort than whites?” asked study authors Amy Hsin of Queens College in New York and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan.
“Asian and Asian American youth are harder working because of cultural beliefs that emphasize the strong connection between effort and achievement,” the authors wrote. Studies show that Asian and Asian American students tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that can be developed through effort, whereas white Americans tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that are inborn.”
It appears that the standard historical explanations are now being challenged as well,
Previous explanations for this phenomenon have included family socio-demographic characteristics, natural cognitive skills and academic effort.
The authors wrote that family wealth was not a factor in performance.
Similarly, there was no convincing evidence that the reason was genetic.
The answer, the authors wrote, appeared to be a matter of motivation and work ethic.
“Qualities such as attentiveness, self-control, motivation and persistence may be as important as cognitive abilities in positively affecting academic performance,” the authors wrote. “Asian American parents may engage in parenting practices that better cultivate these qualities that, in turn, enable their children’s academic success.”
Here’s a wild idea: If this success is not just a possibility, but a reality for Asian American families, surely it can become a reality for any family willing to take ownership of parental responsibilities, put the time in and do the required hard work – no matter their ethnicity, their level of income, or their station in life. Equal opportunity success!