Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Michael Southam-Gerow, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Chelsea Derlan, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kevin Sutherland, Ph.D.


Skin-tone based social stratification has been characterized as an enduring part of the U.S. racial landscape (Hunter, 2002). Despite the plethora of research that examines the racial disparities in education (e.g., Reardon & Portilla, 2015), and an emerging literature finding that lighter skin-tones are associated with higher educational attainment among adults (Hunter, 2002) few studies have examined whether similar processes emerge during early childhood. Thus, grounded in Garcia Coll and colleagues’ (1996) integrative model, we tested whether skin-tone predicted children’s academic achievement, and whether these relations were modified by children’s ethnic-racial identification (i.e., positive ethnic-racial attitudes and centrality). Consistent with expectations, darker skin-tones were associated with lower math scores. Positive attitudes did not significantly moderate the relation between skin-tone and academic achievement. However, contrary to our hypothesis, high levels of ethnic racial centrality strengthened the association between skin-tone and academic achievement. Conclusions: These findings contribute to the literature by providing evidence for the early development of within race skin-tone based disparities in academic achievement and underscoring the need for further exploration of ethnic racial identification as protective or risk factors in the positive development of minority children.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission