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Long-run Trends in the U.S. SES-Achievement Gap

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  • Eric A. Hanushek
  • Jacob D. Light
  • Paul E. Peterson
  • Laura M. Talpey
  • Ludger Woessmann

Abstract

Rising inequality in the United States has raised concerns about potentially widening gaps in educational achievement by socio-economic status (SES). Using assessments from LTT-NAEP, Main-NAEP, TIMSS, and PISA that are psychometrically linked over time, we trace trends in SES gaps in achievement for U.S. student cohorts born between 1961 and 2001. Gaps in math, reading, and science achievement between the top and bottom quartiles of the SES distribution have closed by 0.05 standard deviations per decade over this period. The findings are consistent across alternative measures of SES and subsets of available tests and hold in more recent periods. At the current pace of closure, the achievement gap would not be eliminated until the second half of the 22nd Century.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric A. Hanushek & Jacob D. Light & Paul E. Peterson & Laura M. Talpey & Ludger Woessmann, 2019. "Long-run Trends in the U.S. SES-Achievement Gap," NBER Working Papers 25648, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25648
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    Cited by:

    1. Ryan Bacic & Angela Zheng, 2022. "Income-Achievement Gaps in Canada," Department of Economics Working Papers 2022-04, McMaster University.
    2. Lefebvre, Pierre & Merrigan, Philip, 2020. "Les inégalités provinciales aux tests internationaux-nationaux de littéracie : Québec, Ontario et autres provinces canadiennes 1993-2018," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 96(3), pages 295-382, Septembre.
    3. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 2020. "Les inégalités provinciales aux tests internationaux-nationaux de littéracie : Québec, Ontario et autres provinces canadiennes 1993-2018 (Version révisée et augmentée octobre 2020)," CIRANO Working Papers 2020s-29, CIRANO.
    4. Eric A. Hanushek & Jacob D. Light & Paul E. Peterson & Laura M. Talpey & Ludger Woessmann, 2019. "Long-run Trends in the U.S. SES-Achievement Gap," NBER Working Papers 25648, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jessen, Jonas & Schmitz, Sophia & Waights, Sevrin, 2020. "Understanding day care enrolment gaps," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 190(C).
    6. Douglas J. Besharov & Douglas M. Call & Jason M. Scott, 2020. "PROTOCOL: Early childhood education programs for improving the development and achievement of low‐income children: a systematic review," Campbell Systematic Reviews, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 16(3), September.
    7. Emma García & Eunice S. Han, 2022. "Teachers’ Base Salary and Districts’ Academic Performance: Evidence From National Data," SAGE Open, , vol. 12(1), pages 21582440221, March.
    8. Katharine L. Bradbury, 2020. "The Roles of State Aid and Local Conditions in Elementary School Test-Score Gaps," Working Papers 21-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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