Thesis Title

The Impact of Resources on Education: A Position Paper on How Theories of Social Capital Provide Insight on the Achievement Gap in the United States Education System

Graduation Date

Spring 2012

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Madeliene Peters, EdD


Research has shown that there is a gap in educational achievement between socioeconomic and racial groups in the public education system in the United States. This paper identifies the link between resources and academic achievement. Through examining educational resources, from in-school factors, such as facilities and teacher quality, to out-of-school factors, such as family structure, socioeconomic status, and community values, this study serves to evaluate several theories of social capital in the hopes of providing an explanation for why this achievement gap exists.

The review of the literature provided an inconsistent view on which factor has the most impact on educational achievement across diverse groups. In turn, this paper explores the possibility that the factors are interrelated and therefore difficult to compare. By outlining an analogy between Jared Diamond’s (1999) geographic luck theory from Guns, Germs, and Steel and the public education system in the United States, this paper shows the importance of resources to academic achievement and how social capital plays a consequential role in students’ performance in school.

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