Race and ethnicity affect how students respond to instruction and their opportunities to learn.
Given the shameful differences in the academic outcomes and graduation rates of students of color compared to many Asian and white students, one would expect policies and practices related to students' race and ethnicity to be high on the reform agenda. Of course, there is widespread discussion of the "minority achievement gap," but solutions on the public agenda are invariably color-blind. It is widely assumed that what works for white and Asian American students will work for students of color—if only we did it more often.
We need, however, to recognize an inconvenient truth—that when it comes to maximizing learning opportunities and outcomes for students from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, race and ethnicity matter. Race and ethnicity influence teaching and learning in two important ways: They affect how students respond to instruction and curriculum, and they influence teachers' assumptions about how students learn and how much students are capable of learning.