Barack Obama can move crowds, restore hope and narrow the Achievement Gap in a single bound. That’s the gist of a small study recently submitted for review to The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Researchers found that President Obama inspires African-American test takers and makes them feel confident. As a result, they perform better on tests.
The performance gap between a group of African-Americans and a group of whites on a 20-question test administered before Obama’s nomination practically disappeared when the exam was administered after his acceptance speech and again after the presidential election, according to the report’s authors.
The study sample was small, and it’s hard to imagine that the results will extend throughout Obama’s term. But it speaks to the importance of expectations. Schools can do wonders by instilling a sense of competence in every student of every background. Young people who feel confident raise their own expectations.