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Shi article on low-income female students and the reversal of the Black-White gap published in AERA

Apr 12, 2020

Ying Shi headshot

Ying Shi

This article shows that the traditional narrative of Black-White high school graduation gaps is inverted among economically disadvantaged female students. Two nationally representative surveys and statewide administrative data demonstrate that low-income White females graduate at rates 5 to 6 percentage points lower than Black peers despite having higher test scores.

Greater rates of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use among White females account for one third of the attainment disparity. Since the early onset of substance use among low-income White females predicts lower attainment, more research on the factors leading to risky behaviors and their correlates during early adolescence is warranted. Examining racial gaps in high school graduation at the intersection of gender and income categories can inform more tailored interventions.