Department of Educational Administration


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 2023



Copyright © 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission.


This paper critically analyzes gap discourses in student learning, starting from the achievement gap, education debt, and opportunity gaps, applying the lens of coloniality, racial capitalism, and modernity (CRCM). Gap discourses are the prevalent rationale behind educational policies and school reforms globally. Specifically in the United States, achievement gap discourses contribute substantially to the educational framework that minoritized students (students of color) are inherently – intellectually and academically – behind White students. This paper will show the pervasive power of achievement gap discourses and their influence on school policy, practices, and norms. Additionally, we highlight how some of the most formidable achievement gap critiques fail to grasp the power of gap discourses. In some cases, these critiques end up reifying White supremacy ideologies. We propose a decoloniality framework or a layered and multi-disciplinary response to help re-think the entire gap discourses informed by White supremacy.