A 17.5 percentage-point gap between black and white adults on a test administered before President Barack Obama became the Democratic presidential nominee narrowed to almost nothing after his nomination acceptance speech and again after the presidential election, according to the preliminary results of a small study. "It's a very small sample, but certainly a provocative study. There is a certainly a theoretical foundation and some empirical support for the proposition that Obama's election could increase the sense of competence among African-Americans, and it could reduce the anxiety associated with taking difficult test questions," said Ronald F. Ferguson, a Harvard professor who studies the achievement gap among students.

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