ASIAN MODEL MINORITY MYTH

R. Stepp

Claremont Graduate University (UNITED STATES)
The Asian Model minority myth that Asian students are high achievers has some truth to it. However, this paper will show that Asian student success depends on the level of education and English skills that they have when they arrive. Southeast Asians who came to the United States as refugees may be less successful than other Asian groups. This paper will examine individual Asian-American groups in some detail as to how culture and family structure may contribute to student success. This paper will conclude that the Asian model minority myth may have some negative consequences if these students do not get all the support they need. The number of Asians in America (Asia Pacific-Americans or APAs) has increased over the last few decades.
In this paper, I define “Asian” as someone from East and Southeast Asia, in addition to the Indian subcontinent. From the 1940s to the 2000 census, the number of Asians went from about 250.000 (one percent) to 11.9 million (4.2%) (Lew, 2007). They have been portrayed as a homogonous group and as a “model minority” because of their academic achievement and economic rise. The most common explanation used to describe this success has been a strong work ethic, a value of education and a strong family unit.
Brydolf (2009) states that the conventional wisdom has long held that Asian American students are conscientious about doing well in school and are successful. This notion has a certain amount of truth to it. These students receive the highest scores on California's standardized tests, are most likely to graduate from high school, and have the highest rates of eligibility for admission to the University of California for at least the last 20 years (Brydolf, 2009). Further, Asian American students constitute about 12% of the state's K-12 student population but make up more than 40% of the undergraduates at UCLA and Berkeley (Brydolf, 2009).