Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Family experiences explain only a moderate portion of the achievement gap
The gap in academic skills between white and historically disadvantaged racial/ethnic minority children exists at school entry and grows over time. Research over the last two decades has identified the important role of schools in perpetuating these disparities and the limited role of family experiences. Much of this research, however, has relied on strategies that consider only snapshots of children’s experiences and has assumed that family and schooling experiences have the same benefit for everyone.
This study examines racial/ethnic differences in children’s achievement through a cumulative framework that focuses on differences in the overall amounts of accumulated experiences and whether these experiences have similar benefits for all children.
Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 (ECLS-K), the study finds that cumulative experiences explain a moderate portion of the gap in reading and math gains between white and historically disadvantaged minority children. In addition, there is evidence that family and schooling experiences matter differently by race/ethnicity.