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The Academic Achievement Gap in Grades 3 to 8

  • Charles T. Clotfelter
  • Helen F. Ladd
  • Jacob L. Vigdor

Using data for North Carolina public school students in grades 3 to 8, we examine achievement gaps between white students and students from other racial and ethnic groups. We focus on successive cohorts of students who stay in the state's public schools for all six years, and study both differences in means and in quantiles. Our results on achievement gaps between black and white students are consistent with those from other longitudinal studies: the gaps are sizable, are robust to controls for measures of socioeconomic status, and show no monotonic trend between 3rd and 8th grade. In contrast, both Hispanic and Asian students tend to gain on whites as they progress through these grades. Looking beyond simple mean differences, we find that the racial gaps in math between low-performing students have tended to shrink as students progress through school, while racial gaps between high-performing students have widened for black and American Indian students.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12207.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12207.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Publication status: published as Charles T Clotfelter & Helen F Ladd & Jacob L Vigdor, 2009. "The Academic Achievement Gap in Grades 3 to 8," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 398-419, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12207
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  1. Alan Krueger & Jesse Rothstein & Sarah Turner, 2005. "Race, Income, and College in 25 Years: The Continuing Legacy of Segregation and Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 11445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2005. "The Black-White Test Score Gap Through Third Grade," NBER Working Papers 11049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "Teacher-Student Matching and the Assessment of Teacher Effectiveness," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
  4. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," NBER Working Papers 8975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Adam Briggs & Simon Burgess & Deborah Wilson, 2006. "The Dynamics of School Attainment of Englands Ethnic Minorities," CASE Papers case105, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
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