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This book examines the cause of the student achievement gap, suggesting that the prevailing emphasis on socioeconomic factors, sociocultural influences, and teacher quality is misplaced. The cause of the achievement gap is not differences in parenting styles, or the economic advantages of middle-class parents, or differences in the quality of teachers. Instead, schools present learning tasks and award grades in ways that inadvertently undermine the self-efficacy, engagement, and effort of low-performing students, causing demoralization and exacerbating differences in achievement that are seen to exist as early as kindergarten. This process systematically maintains and widens initial gaps in achievement that might otherwise be expected to disappear over the K-12 years. Misdiagnosis of the nature of the achievement gap has led to misguided solutions. The author draws upon a range of research studies to support this view and to offer recommendations for improvement.