The Early Achievement and Development Gap. How have achievement and developmental gaps changed historically?


Gaps in achievement between children living in the poorest households and their peers living in the highest income households have widened over the last few decades. Test scores of very low-income children (those in the lowest 10 percent of income, or lowest decile) born around 1950 lagged behind those of their affluent peers (those in the highest 10 percent of income) by a little over half of a SD -- about 60 points on an SAT-type test. Fifty years later, this gap was twice as large.[22] From the early 1960s to the early 1980s, college graduation rates for children born into the highest income families jumped from 33 percent to 54 percent, while college graduation rates for children born into very low-income families increased by a mere 4 percentage points.[23] This may be due in part to the fact that the incomes for families at the top of the income distribution (80th percentile and above) grew at a much faster rate during these decades than that for families at the low end of the income distribution.[24]

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