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Examining the Racial Academic Achievement Gap and Social Emotional Learning as a Solution

Derik Suria (August, 2022)


This article examines the role of race in the academic achievement gap in the United States. While previous literature has studied the impact of sociological theories, changes in education policy, and socioeconomic status in isolation, this article explores the relationship between each aforementioned element. By incorporating multiple factors, this research reduces the effect of confounding variables while highlighting the complexity of pinpointing why racial achievement gaps persist. As a potential solution, I explore how policies like the Every Student Succeeds Act indirectly encourage the widespread adoption of social-emotional learning (SEL). Through a meta-analysis of existing literature on the learning growth trends, racial biases, and SEL, I found that stereotypes surrounding work ethic and a culture drastically influence the quality of schooling. As a result, SEL is a valuable tool to foster positive academic habits and close the achievement gap. Building positive habits have a cascading effect on future outcomes like socioeconomic status, educational attainment, and closing the earnings gap.

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