Asian students work to fight stereotypes     
Arizona Republic

What drives today's Asian-American kids

Pat Kossan

The evidence that Asian-American kids are smart is everywhere.

For the past three years, these students outscored every other group on the state's AIMS reading and math tests, slipping behind White students only in high school reading.
They outscored all groups in the SAT college entrance math exam.
They earned 8 percent of in-state merit scholarships at Arizona State University last year, although they make up only 2.6 percent of the K-12 population.

Most people form their own theories about why Asian-American students do well. Some credit their parents' academic focus. Others say these kids are inherently smart. But the reality is more complicated.

Researchers say Asian-American students are more likely to excel because a higher proportion come from well-educated families with middle and higher incomes. Those types of parents have a strong work ethic and high expectations for their kids.

Their children also may achieve to fight certain stereotypes or live up to other ones.

Angela Le, 20, is the daughter of a former Vietnamese army captain who came to the U.S. from an Indonesian refugee camp before she was born. She rose to the top 5 percent of her Glendale Independence High School class.

"My family hammered it into my head that you have to be better than everyone else," the ASU junior said. "Don't let people think because you're new here, or a minority, that you cannot make it."