Burchinal: Examining the Achievement Gap Among Low-Income Children

October 01, 2011

This is a foundational study for Learning Community programs. It shows the achievement gap is established well before a child starts preschool and makes a strong case for early intervention when children are infants and toddlers. 

By Margaret Burchinal, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of California-Irvine; Kathleen McCartney, Harvard University; Laurence Steinberg, Temple University; Robert Crosnoe, University of Texas; Sarah L. Friedman, Institute for Public Research, The CNA Corporation; Vonnie McLoyd, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Robert Pianta, University of Virginia; and NICHD Early Child, Care Research Network

The Black–White achievement gap in children’s reading and mathematics school performance from 4½ years of age through fifth grade was examined in a sample of 314 lower income American youth followed from birth. Differences in family, child care, and schooling experiences largely explained Black–White differences in achievement, and instructional quality was a stronger predictor for Black than White children. In addition, the achievement gap was detected as young as 3 years of age. Taken together, the findings suggest that reducing the Black–White achievement gap may require early intervention to reduce race gaps in home and school experiences during the infant and toddler years as well as during the preschool and school years...

NICHD.jpeg    View Full Study

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