Achievement/Skills Gap

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Achievement, Skills Gap/Education Equity

Here you will find a variety of reports and articles focusing on achievement gap issues that continue to be found in our public education system.  Inclusion here does not indicate Georgia Partnership support of particular positions. Entries go back to 2012.  Broken links should be reported here.


Does Gentrification Explain Rising Student Scores in Washington, D.C.?
Urban Institute

Student performance in the nation’s capital has increased so dramatically that it has attracted significant attention and prompted many to ask whether gentrificationrather than an improvement in school quality, is behind the higher scores. This analysis shows that demographic change explains some, but by no means all, of the increase in scores. Related story. (May 27)

Hearts and Minds of Parents in an Uncertain World
Learning Heroes

This report offers insights into the hearts and minds of America’s parents. There are deep areas of concern, including fears surrounding what they feel they cannot control, such as peer pressure, bullying, physical safety, and the Internet/social media. Related story. Related: Readiness Roadmap. (May 24)

African-American Girls in High-Risk Neighborhoods Experience Threats and Objectification
Georgia State University

African-American girls in the fifth, sixth and seventh grades shared their experiences with strained relationships, recurring violence, internalized stereotypes and objectifying sexual activities. Related story. (May 24)

Mind the Gap - 20 Years of Progress and Retrenchment in School Funding and Achievement Gaps
ETS Research Report

Although there has been significant progress in the long term, achievement gaps among the nation's students persist. Many factors have contributed to the disparities in outcomes, and societal changes can explain progress, or lack thereof, over the past few decades. Abstract. Related story. (May 19)

Disentangling the Casual Mechanisms of Bureaucracy: Evidence from Assignment of Students to Gifted Programs
Journal of Public Administration, Research and Theory

Abstract: According to this research, African-American children are three times as likely to be placed in gifted-education programs if they have a black teacher rather than a white teacher.  Related story. (May 10),  

In Wealthier Districts, Students Are Farther Apart
The Atlantic

Some of the wealthiest, most-educated towns in the United States have the biggest academic-achievement gaps between white students and their peers of color. (May 4) 

Achievement Gaps and Racial Segregation:  Research Finds an Insidious Cycle
Education Week/Stanford Education Data Archive/Center for Education Policy Analysis

(Subscription may be required.) Fifteen years of new programs, testing, standards, and accountability have not ended racial achievement gaps in the United States. (May 2)

Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States - 2016 Historical Trend Report
Pell Institute

This report examines trends in post-secondary enrollment in the U.S. by family income, race/ethnicity, and family socioeconomic status. Introduction. Related story.  (April 21)

Why Promising Students Fail to Escape Poverty (Coming of Age in the Other America)
City Lab - The Atlantic

Despite the challenge of growing up in tough areas with few resources, thousands of inner city kids manage to excel academically. But even some students who seem to thrive early on run a significant risk of faltering on their quest for greater things. (April 8) 

How Much Can High-Quality Universal Pre-K Reduce Achievement Gaps?
Center for American Progress

A new analysis of reading and math scores in two of the country's highest-performing public preschool programs (Tulsa and Boston) concludes that high-quality preschool could help children of all backgrounds enter kindergarten on an even playing field. Related story. (April 8) 

Latinos and Literacy: Hispanic Students' Progress in Reading
Child Trends Hispanic Institute

Latino students have made impressive academic gains over the past decade, but almost a quarter are still not proficient in reading – and in some states, they're more than three grades behind their peers. Related story. (March 30) 

How Perceptions of Opportunity Vary by Race
The Atlantic

Black and white Americans have dramatically different views on whether all children have equal access to the same opportunities. (March 14) 

Income Inequality, Social Mobility, and the Decision to Drop Out of High School
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity

It is widely documented that places with higher levels of income inequality have lower rates of social mobility. But it is an open question as to whether this reflects a causal relationship. Abstract. Related story. Press release. (March 11)

Science Achievement Gaps Begin Very Early, Persist, and Are Largely Explained by Modifiable Factors
Educational Researcher

Large science achievement gaps at the end of eighth grade between white and racial/ethnic minority children and between children from higher- and lower-income families are rooted in large yet modifiable general knowledge gaps already present by the time children enter kindergarten. Abstract. Press release.  (February 2016)

How Limited Internet Access Can Subtract From Kids' Education
National Public Radio

Can a kid succeed in school with only a mobile device for Internet access at home? Lorena Uribe doesn't have to think about that one: "Absolutely not," she says. (February 2016)

The Punishment Gap:  School Suspension and Racial Disparities in Achievement (Abstract)
Oxford Press

The achievement gap between black students and their peers is well documented, but conclusive explanations of the reasons for the gap are harder to come by. Now this study of more than 15,000 students in Kentucky says that as much as 20 percent of the difference may be due to a single cause: getting suspended from school. Related story. (February 2016)

The Global Skills Gap Widens as U.S. Students Struggle

The UN Global Compact, a group that encourages companies to pursue sustainability across governance, social, and environmental issues, has published a report that ranks the biggest worries of more than 5,500 leaders in business, universities, and civil society groups. Two of the top three were how to close the skills gap and groom people for the “digital labor market.” Report. (February 2016) 

State Test Results are Getting Closer to Student Achievement on NAEP
Achieve and Collaborative for Student Success

In 2015, Achieve released, Proficient vs. Prepared, showing large disparities between most state test results and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). With states taking action to transition to new, more rigorous tests over the past couple of years and also setting new levels of proficiency or cut scores, states deserve a lot of credit for reducing or even eliminating the “honesty gap” that existed. IntroductionRelated story. Related story. Related story. (January 2016)

Discretion and Disproportionality: Explaining the Underrepresentation of High-Achieving Students of Color in Gifted Programs
Vanderbilt University

Black students are far less likely to be placed in gifted programs, even if they have the same test scores as their white peers and especially if their teacher is white, according to a new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University. Related story. (January 2016)

Performance of fourth-grade students in the 2012 NAEP computer-based writing pilot assessment
National Center for Education Statistics

Can elementary-school children show off their best writing on a computer? The research arm of the U.S. Department of Education was curious to learn just that. In 2012 it handed out laptop computers to more than 10,000 fourth-graders and asked them to complete two 30-minute writing assignments. Related story. (January 2016)


Opportunity, Responsibility, and Severity - A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream

As America recovers from the Great Recession, many of our fellow citizens remain mired in poverty. Economic trends, cultural changes, and changes in family and marriage patterns are combining in new ways that make it harder for those born on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder to lift themselves up. Brief introduction. Formal introduction. (December 2015)

Rising Tide:  Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students?
Education Trust

Graduation rates have been steadily improving at universities for about a decade now. But this report shows that at some public institutions, the gap in graduation rates between minority students and white students is actually growing. Introduction. Related story.  (December 2015)

What Kids Are Reading And the Path to College and Careers
Renaissance Learning

What's the difference between the kids who remain at the bottom of the class and those who surge ahead to the top half?  It could be as little as 4.7 minutes, in the case of reading.  Related story. (November 2015)

Recent Trends in Socioeconomic and Racial School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry
Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA)

Academic achievement gaps between high- and low-income students born in the 1990s were much larger than among cohorts born two decades earlier. During the same period, racial achievement gaps declined. (November 2015)

Georgia launches apprentice program to tackle stubborn skills gap
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia has launched an apprentice program as a new tactic to combat a persistent problem: Even as the state struggles with a stubborn jobless rate, there’s a growing demand for highly skilled workers that remains unmet. (October 2015) 

Measuring Up - Educational improvement and Opportunity in 50 Cities
Center for Reinventing Public Education

What started out as a technical task—pulling together publicly available data to develop a set of “indicators” city leaders could use to measure school performance and equity—ended up raising serious questions about the health of our urban schools. It also uncovered places where progress in urban education is being made. (October 2015)

Math content in schools adding to achievement gap
Washington Post

The gap in math performance between poor students and their wealthier peers is due in large part to the systemically weaker math content in schools that teach low-income students, according to a new study released Wednesday. (September 2015)

When schools overlook introverts
The Atlantic

As the focus on group work and collaboration increases, classrooms are neglecting the needs of students who work better in quiet settings. (September 2015) 

The Widening Achievement Gap Between the Rich and the Poor
Stanford University

Today, despite some setbacks along the way, racial disparities in education have narrowed significantly. But the question is now, why has progress slowed.  Related story. (September 2015)

Can Universal Screening Increase the Representation of Low Income and Minority Students in Gifted Education?
National Bureau of Economic Research

(This is an abstract.  There is a charge for the complete paper.) Low income and minority students are under-represented in gifted education programs. One explanation for this pattern is that the usual process for identifying gifted students systematically misses many potentially qualified disadvantaged students. Related story. (September 2015)

Bridging Georgia's skills gap:  Retooling Georgia's schools - Atlanta Forward - As businesses increasingly hire skilled labor from elsewhere, state educators look to produce more college- and career-ready graduates
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The gap is wide, and projections show Georgia jobs will require more training. In five years, 60 percent of jobs in the state will require post-secondary education, either a degree or certificate. But only 38 percent of Georgia high school sophomores get that far, according to a recent Atlanta Regional Commission study. (September 2015)

Mapping the Early Attendance Gap
Attendance Works

This report shows how disparities in school attendance rates starting as early as preschool and kindergarten are contributing to achievement gaps and high school dropout rates across the country. Introduction. Executive summaryRelated story. (September 2015)

The Next Chapter: Supporting Literacy Within ESEA
Alliance for Excellent Education

Noting that 60 percent of both fourth and eighth graders currently struggle with reading, this report urges Congress to focus on students’ literacy development from early childhood through grade 12 as it works to rewrite of the ESEA, currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Introduction. Press release. Related story. (August 2015)

Mapping State Proficiency Standards Onto NAEP Scales: Results from 2013 NAEP Reading and Mathematics
National Center for Education Statistics

Under the 2001 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, states developed their own assessments and set their own proficiency standards to measure student achievement. This has resulted in a great deal of variation among the states.  Related story.  Related blog comments. (July 2015)

Goodnight Moon and opportunity: A worrisome gap between rich and poor
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Maureen Downey's 'Get Schooled' blog puts the spotlight on the disparities in the home life of children and what it means in their education. (May 2015)

The Long-Run Effects of Teacher Cheating on Student Outcomes
Georgia State University

Using a panel of individual level data on students and teachers from the Atlanta Public School System, Georgia State researchers investigated the effects of teacher cheating on subsequent student achievement, attendance and student behavior. Related story. (May 2015)

Opinion: Holding poor children accountable for a test score is unfair
Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Maureen Downey's 'Get Schooled' blog

This is a long piece by a scientist on the external factors that undermine student learning. I am increasingly realizing our mantra to poor kids can’t simply be, “Work harder and you will overcome all the obstacles in your path and succeed.” (April 2015)

The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing 2015 and Beyond
Deloitte/Manufacturing Institute

It's not easy for manufacturing to attract the younger, skilled workers that it needs. We need to focus on both the educational pipeline and public perceptions. Related story. (April 2015)

Increasing Education:  What It Will and Will Not Do for Earnings and Earning Inequality
The Hamilton Project

We have empirically simulated what would happen to the distribution of earnings if one out of every ten men aged 25–64 who did not have a bachelor’s degree were to instantly obtain one—a sizeable increase in college attainment. Related story. (April 2015)

Equal Talents, Unequal Opportunities - A Report Card on State Support for Academically Talented Low-Income Students
Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

This report says high-achieving students from low-income households can’t rely on resilience alone to see them through. The report finds that high-achieving students lag behind their wealthier peers, creating a potential gap. Related story. (April 2015)

The Achievement Gap In High School Graduation Rates Appears To Be Narrowing
Huffington Post

Even though significantly more white and Asian/Pacific Islander students are graduating from high school than their Hispanic, black and American Indian peers, achievement gaps in this area still appear to be closing. Related article. (March 2015)

The Numbers Add Up To This: Less And Less Opportunity For Poor Kids

In this country, all children are supposed to have a shot at success — a chance to jump "from rags to riches" in one generation. Even if riches remain out of reach, then the belief has been that every hard-working American should be able to go from poverty to the middle class. A study will be released soon turning up evidence that the one-generation leap is getting harder to accomplish in an economy so tied to education, technological know-how and networking. (March 2015)

Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?
The Civil Rights Project - UCLA

The main body of this report documents gross disparities in the use of out-of-school suspension experienced by students with disabilities and those from historically disadvantaged racial, ethnic, and gender subgroups.  Related story. (February 2015)

Kids Count - Better Way to Measure Poverty
Annie E. Casey Foundation

The federal government's official poverty measure, created in the 1960s, fails to illustrate the effect of programs designed to help families succeed.  This data snapshot highlights the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which captures the effect of safety-net programs and tax policies on families. Introduction page. (February 2015)

Closing the Achievement Gap - Four States' Efforts
Education Commission of the States

This report highlights the efforts of four states -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin -- to reduce their achievement gaps through state-level task forces or commissions and other legislative action. (January 2015)

Closing the Expectations Gap

This ninth annual report shows the progress that states have made in advancing college and career readiness while also revealing that much work remains to be done to ensure that all students are academically prepared to succeed in college and careers after high school.  Press release. (January 2015) 

U.S. Education: Still Separate and Unequal
U.S. News and World Report

The U.S. spends significantly more on education than other OECD countries. In 2010, the U.S. spent 39 percent more per full-time student for elementary and secondary education than the average for other countries.  What about the outcomes? (January 2015)

An International Look at the Single-Parent Family
Education Next

When Daniel Patrick Moynihan raised the issue of family structure half a century ago, his concern was the increase in black families headed by women. Since then, the share of children raised in single-parent families in the United States has grown across racial and ethnic groups. Related story. (January 2015)


Report Card:  How the Digital Skills Gap is Failing Teachers and Students -- And What We Can Do About It

There is a two-pronged, and potentially two phase, digital skills gap.  The first is occurring right now; the full impact of the second may not been seen for several tears. Both are critically important. (December 2014)

Closing America's Skills Gap
Business Roundtable/Change the Equation

The skills gap is a serious challenge for America’s businesses and our entire economy.  If our businesses and economy are going to compete and succeed, then we must address this crisis. Introduction. More. Related story. (December 2014)

Learning English in Rural America
Education Commission of the States (ECS)

As English language learners arrived in waves, many rural schools and districts quickly went for low-incidence to high-incidence of ELLs. Here is how rural areas have responded. (November 2014)

Music Lessons Enhance Brain Function in Disadvantaged Kids
Pacific Standard

There is much evidence that poverty, and the chronic stress it creates, hinders the development of young brains. However, new research finds one important aspect of neural functioning is gradually strengthened when underprivileged children engage in a challenging but fun activity: Music lessons. (September 2014)

Closing the Race Gap:  Alleviating Young African American Unemployed Through Education
Young Invincibles

This report shows yet another way African Americans face systematic disadvantage on the job market. Related story. (August 2014)

Mother's Education and Children's Outcomes:  How Dual-Generation Programs Offer Increased Opportunities for America's Families
Foundation for Child Development

Early childhood programs are one thing and education for adults another, but rarely do the two go hand-in-hand. However, disparities between children whose mothers had not graduated from high school and those whose mothers had a college degree are enormous. (July 2014)

Why Rural Matters 2013-2014 - The Condition of Rural Education in the 50 States
The Rural School and Community Trust

This is the seventh in a series of biennial reports analyzing the contexts and conditions of rural education in each of the 50 states and calling attention to the need for policymakers to address rural education issues in their respective states. Introduction. (May 2014)

Looking at the Best Teachers and Who They Teach
Center for American Progress

This report studies schools in Massachusetts and Louisiana and comes to the conclusion that many of the students who need the best teachers most - poor students and students of color - are least likely to get them. Related storyIntroduction. (April 2014)


Evidence mounting that poverty causes lasting physical and mental health problems for children
Pittsburgh Gazette

Sheila Good faced the decision most mothers dread. Should she spend more time raising her son or earning a paycheck? Should she be a better mom or a better provider? (November 2013)
Growing income achievement gap overshadows race
Hechinger Report

On a weekday afternoon in July, Jessica Klaitman pulled her 16-month-old daughter Hannah out of a stroller in the lobby of the New York Kids Club, a 10,000 square-foot “child-enrichment center” with four classrooms, a dance studio, and gym space in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. (August 2013)

Poverty and Education: Finding the Way Forward

Of the 35 richest countries, the U.S. has the second highest child poverty rate. Twenty-two percent of American children are in poverty, and while education has long been touted as the great equalizer, that is more myth than reality. (August 2013)

School-Based Mentoring Programs: Using Volunteers to Improve the Outcomes of Underserved Students

Do school-based mentoring programs work? Yes, if a mentorship pair forms a relationship that the student rates as "somewhat close" or better. (August 2013)

Out of School and Off Track:  The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools
The Civil Rights Project - UCLA

In this first of a kind breakdown of data from over 26,000 U.S. middle and high schools, CRP researchers estimate that well over two million students were suspended during the 2009-2010 academic year. Related story. (March 2013)


Do Federally Assisted Households Have Access to High Performing Public Schools
Poverty & Race Research Issue Council

Government agencies are working hard to improve resources and outcomes in low income, racially isolated communities and schools. The effort aims at expanding low income families’ access to racially and economically integrated schools and communities. (December 2012)

Inseparable Imperatives:  Equity in Education and the Future of the American Economy
Alliance for Excellent Education 

Report's focus: America cannot afford to ignore the gaps in educational achievement and high school graduation rates.  Failing to close those gaps will have dire consequences for the American economy.  Related story. (December 2012)

Failure Is Not an Option!
Public Agenda

How principals, teachers, students and teachers from Ohio's high achieving, high-poverty schools explain their success. Related. (November 2012)

The Urgency of Now – The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males 2012
Schott Foundation

This report focuses on Black male graduation rates 2009-2010. Related story. (September 2012)

Housing Costs, Zoning, and Access to High-Scoring Schools

Nationwide, the average low-income student attends a school that scores at the 42nd percentile on state exams, while the average middle/high-income student attends a school that scores at the 61st percentile on state exams. This school test-score gap is even wider between black and Latino students and white students. Relating story. (April 2012)

College Degree Gap Widens
Daily Yonder

In many ways, rural America has caught up with the rest of the U.S. in terms of educational achievement. But over the past 40 years, the gap in the percentage of adults with college degrees has increased between urban and rural counties. (April 2012)