Who’s missing from the achievement gap debate?

Play
Pause
0:00

The achievement gap refers to the disparities in academic success between lower-income students of color and their more affluent white counterparts. But according to Quyen Dinh, executive director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)–a national advocacy organization in DC–one group often left out of the conversation is Southeast Asian American students.

Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC).  Photo: Phuong Do.

Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). Photo: Phuong Do.

Only about 65 percent of Southeast Asian Americans in the US over the age of 25 hold at least a high school diploma, as compared to a national average of 85 percent for all people in that age group. Southeast Asian Americans also face some of the highest dropout rates of any racial or ethnic group in the country.

But research shows that Asian Americans are often regarded as a monolithic group, often portrayed as uniformly high-achieving with few barriers to success. This “model minority” myth obscures the challenges that many Asian American students face, especially Southeast Asian Americans.


For more details on the state of education for Southeast Asian American students, visit SEARAC’s Education Policy Resource Hub.

SEARAC advocates for Southeast Asian American and other refugee communities on issues including education, health care and immigration. The group is also pushing for the All Students Count Act, which would require state education agencies to break down the Asian American demographic into some of its constituent groups, including Vietnamese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Chinese, and more.