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The Obama effect? Inspiration and ACT scores

Patrick Gourley

Applied Economics Letters, 2018, vol. 25, issue 14, 1019-1023

Abstract: After Barack Obama’s 2008 election to the presidency of the United States, many predicted that the first Black president would inspire a generation of Black Americans, especially students. While stories of Obama inspiring individuals to overachieve are common, it remains to be seen if there was a systemic shift in Black student achievement after Obama’s election. Given the persistent racial score gap between Blacks and Whites on standardized tests, it is important to know if an inspirational figure could have a significant impact. Using ACT data from Chicago Public Schools, I find there is no evidence that Obama’s election had an impact on Black test scores. The racial ACT gap has been increasing since the beginning of the 21st century, and that trend continued after Obama was elected.

Date: 2018
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