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The Black-White Test Score Gap Through Third Grade

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  • Roland G. Fryer
  • Steven D. Levitt

Abstract

This paper describes basic facts regarding the black-white test score gap over the first four years of school. Black children enter school substantially behind their white counterparts in reading and math, but including a small number of covariates erases the gap. Over the first four years of school, however, blacks lose substantial ground relative to other races; averaging .10 standard deviations per school year. By the end of third grade there is a large Black-White test score gap that cannot be explained by observable characteristics. Blacks are falling behind in virtually all categories of skills tested, except the most basic. None of the explanations we examine, including systematic differences in school quality across races, convincingly explain the divergent academic trajectory of Black students.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11049.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11049.

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Date of creation: Jan 2005
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Publication status: published as Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2006. "The Black-White Test Score Gap Through Third Grade," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 249-281.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11049

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  1. Eliana Garces & Duncan Thomas & Janet Currie, 2000. "Longer Term Effects of Head Start," Working Papers, RAND Corporation Publications Department 00-20, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  2. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 447-464, May.
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