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Achievement Gaps

"The 'Obama Effect': How a Salient Role Model Reduces Race-Based Performance Differences"

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A study has found that black-white achievement gaps virtually disappeared among a group of 472 test-takers during some of the high points of President Barack Obama's recent campaign.

Researchers administered verbal tests drawn from the Graduate Record Examination at four different points during Mr. Obama's campaign. They found that African-American participants lagged behind demographically similar white participants when Mr. Obama's campaign quest was less prominent in the national news. The test-score gaps narrowed and disappeared, however, at high points like Mr. Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Study co-author Ray A. Friedman, a management professor at Nashville's Vanderbilt University, said the results suggest the power that positive role models can have on other members of their racial and ethnic communities.

Vol. 28, Issue 19, Page 5

Published in Print: January 28, 2009, as Achievement Gaps
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