Achievement/Skills Gap, Equity

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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 2016.  Broken links should be reported here.

Check these additional resources
ASCDHispanic Organization Promoting Education (HoPe)Ithaca CollegeNational Assessment of Educational ProgressNational Education AssociationSouthern Education Foundation


Is Summer Breaking America’s Schools?
U.S. News & World Report

If the American Dream depends on its education system, summer break could be holding its students back. “Summer is the most unequal time in America,” says Matthew Boulay, founder and CEO of the National Summer Learning Association.  (June 11)

Hispanic-Serving Institutions:  Success in Enrolling Hispanic Students
Excelencia in Education!

New data analysis about Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) reveals that such institutions are on the rise around the country, including in less-expected states such as Connecticut, Oregon and Tennessee. (June 11)

The Summer After Kindergarten: Children’s Experiences by Socioeconomic Characteristics
U.S. Department of Education

More affluent kids are about twice as likely to visit a museum, art gallery, or historical site or see a play or concert over the summer, as compared with their peers from low-income families. Related story. (June 4)

Lost in the Shuffle: Student Turnover in the Era of Grading Schools

Part I:  Research shows high student mobility can disrupt learning. It can also make it tough to understand how well a school is doing.  Part II: High student turnover can be a common problem for schools in low-income areas. Families move from school to school for many reasons: a new job, an illness, family issues or an eviction. Part III: Schools in poor areas often suffer from a problem they can’t easily fix: student mobility. That’s when families move around a lot, causing turnover in school communities. (May 31)

Seen or Unseen?  The Role of Race in Police Contact Among Homeless Youth
Justice Quarterly

According to this study, non-white homeless youth between the ages of 16 and 19 are more likely than white homeless youth to report harassment by police and to be arrested. Related story. (May 24)

Time Demands of Single Mother College Students and the Role of Child Care in Secondary Success
Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Single mothers enrolled in postsecondary education face substantial time demands that make persistence and graduation difficult. Related story. (May 17)

Georgia State Reinvents Itself as an Engine of Social Mobility
New York Times

For decades, Georgia State was seen as a night school for white businessmen. But in the last five years, it has awarded more bachelor degrees to black students than any other college or university. (May 15)

Why So Many Gifted Yet Struggling Students are Hidden in Plain Sight
National Public Radio

Scott Barry Kaufman was placed in special education classes as a kid. He struggled with auditory information processing and with anxiety.
But with the support of his mother, and some teachers who saw his creativity and intellectual curiosity, Kaufman ended up with degrees from Yale and Cambridge. (May 14)

Civil Rights Data Collection for the 2015-2016 School Year
U.S. DOE – Office of Civil Rights

Federal data shows racial disparities in school discipline worsening, with black students facing far greater rates of school arrests than their white counterparts. Related story. (April 26)

Disabling Punishment
The Center for Civil Rights Remedies/Houston Institute for Race and Justice

This report provides state-by-state data on the number of days that students with disabilities missed due to suspension and identifies the five states with the biggest racial gaps. Related story. (April 23)

What Adult Learners Really Need (Hint: It’s Not Just Job Skills)

More than two out of three college students today are not coming right out of high school. Half are financially independent from their parents and one in four are parents themselves. And they have special needs and skill gaps. (April 20)

States Showing Promising Practices on Leading for Equity
Council of Chief State School Officers

The report provides an overview of practices and policies states are currently engaging in to provide a stronger education for all students. (February 16)


States Leading for Equity: Promising Practices Advancing the Equity Commitments
Council of Chief State School Officers/Aspen Institute/America’s Promise Alliance

This report provides a brief overview of practices and policies states are currently engaging in to provide a stronger education for all students. Related story. (February 20)

A Look at Latino Student Success
Education Trust

More Latino students are enrolling in 4-year colleges and universities than ever before.  But what happens next?  How many are leaving with degrees? Related story. (December 19)

GED Bridge: Strengthening the Link into Colleges and Careers
MDRC, La Guardia Community College of the City University of New York, Northeast Wisconsin College

Some 25 million Americans do not have a high school graduation diploma.  GED has been a viable alternative for many but it has its limitations.  This program looks promising in positioning GED holders for college and the workforce. Related story. (November 28)

Willing, Able and Forgotten
Hechinger Report

Up to 90 percent of students with disabilities are capable of graduating high school fully prepared to tackle college or career if they receive proper support along the way.  Only 65 percent graduate on time. Related story. (November 17)

New Study Reveals Impact of School Environment on Gender-Based Reading Scores
Education Dive

A large proportion of highly qualified teachers benefits both boys and girls equally, and girls are more affected by the socio-economic composition of a school than boys are. (November 14)

Five Ways Business Can Collaborate With the Education Sector to Close the Skills Gap
(Orlando Sentinel)

With U.S. high school graduation rates at an all time high you would think employers would have a wealth of skilled workers to choose from.  Not so. (November 7)

Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving the National Postsecondary Degree Attainment Goals
Education Testing Service – ETS

(Executive summary) The all too familiar narrative of racial and ethnic attainment gaps in education will persist well into the 21st century unless “targeted and tailored” strategies are implemented for underrepresented groups. Related story. (October 24)

Talent Pipeline Management Curriculum
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

This new curriculum represents the Foundation’s hope that business, higher education, and government can use the tool to help close the skills gap. Related story. (October 19)

Latino Education and Economic Progress:  Running Faster but Still Falling Behind
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Latino students have been experiencing greater academic progress of late but that progress is not keeping up with their peers. Related storyIntroduction. (October 12)

Black and Hispanic Students Make ACT Gains in Many SREB States
Southern Regional Education Board

Recently released national ACT scores show improvements from 2016 to 2017 for Black and Hispanic students in the SREB states. (September 8)

Who Does Work Work For?
ACT Center for Equity in Learning

This report finds that working more than 15 hours per week can be detrimental to the academic success of college students.  And those most vulnerable are students who come to college from under-served backgrounds. Related story. (August 30)

Opening Doors – How Selective Colleges and Universities are Expanding Access for High-Achieving, Low-Income Students
Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

This report analyzes the shortcomings of higher ed as an industry in effectively enrolling students from low-income backgrounds, but it also pointed out stories of success at colleges throughout the nation. Related story. (August 23)

Hear My Voice: Strengthening the College Pipeline for Young Men of Color in California
Education Trust – West

This report finds many of California’s men of color face persistent discrimination and roadblocks on their path to and thru post-secondary work. Introduction. (July 24)

Some Schools Much Better Than Others at Closing Achievement Gaps Between Their Advantaged and Disadvantaged Students

How is it that some schools have greater success in closing the achievement gap between their advantaged and disadvantaged students while other struggle?  This study digs into that question.  Related story. (July 22)

Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2017
National Center of Education Statistics – U.S. DOE

This report profiles recent trends and current conditions in the education of students by racial and ethnic group.  Related story. (July 19)

Multi-racial Adolescents Show No Test Score Gap With Whites

The stark, stubborn racial gaps in educational achievement serve to undermine the promise of equal opportunity.  The divide between white and black students particularly reflects and reinforces unequal life chances.  But not all children fall in to these categories. (July 17)

The ‘Word Gap’ and One City’s Plan to Close It
Brookings – Brown Center Chalkboard

Previous research has shown the number of words toddlers are exposed to has an impact on their learning abilities later.  There is a big “word gap” between low income and their middle and higher income peers. (July 11)

Girlhood Interrupted – The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood
Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality

This study shows for the first time adults view Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers, especially in the 5-14 age group. Related story.  Related story posted July 11. (June 29)

Why Rural Matters – Understanding the Changing Landscape
Rural School and Community Trust

As the 2016 presidential election has brought newfound focus to rural education, this 50-state report urges state and federal leaders to make rural students and their students a far greater priority. Press release. (June 15)

Equity in Education
Education Commission of the States

This special report urges increased intentionality of policy development and assessment through exploring equity-minded questions across four key state policy levers. Introduction. (June 15)

Low-Income, Minority Students Lag in Graduation Rates
Associated Press

Despite rising national graduation rates, low-income and minority students continue to lag behind their peers in finishing high school, according to a study released May 3. (May 5)

The 2nd Annual – New Education Majority Poll – Black and Latino Parents and Families on Education and Their Children’s Future
The Leadership Conference Education Fund

The poll’s findings come at a critically important time for U.S. public education as states are currently developing education plans as part of their obligations under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). What’s clear about the process so far is that states are still not sufficiently responsive to the needs and desires of parents, families and communities of color. (May 4)

Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates by Race and Ethnicity – Fall 2010 Cohort
National Student Clearinghouse

College completion rates vary widely along racial and ethnic lines, with black and Hispanic students earning credentials at a much lower rate than white and Asian students do. Introduction.  Related story. (April 27)

The Gap Within the Gap

Researchers and policymakers devote considerable effort to understanding gaps in academic achievement between low-income students and their better-off classmates. And rightly so: the income-based achievement gap is a large and growing source of educational inequality in the U.S. (April 13)

The Long-Run Impacts of Same Race-Teachers
I Z A Institute of Labor Economics – Johns Hopkins University

This report shows that assigning a black male to a black teacher in the third, fourth, or fifth grades significantly reduces the probability that he drops out of high school, particularly among the most economically disadvantaged black males. Press releaseRelated story. (April 10)

More Than Half of the Racial College Completion Gap Explained by Pre-College Factors
New York University Steinhardt College of Culture, Education and Human Development

In this analysis of Texas students, more than 60 percent of the racial gap in college completion rates can be attributed to factors that occur before college – factors that are beyond the control of many colleges and universities. Related story. (April 10)

State-Level Policies Supporting Equitable K-12 Computer Science Education
BNY Mellon

In this report, states’ progress in developing state-level policies that support equitable K–12 computer science education is summarized. Introduction. (April 6)

Unconscious Bias in the Classroom – Evidence and Opportunities

There is underrepresentation of women and racial and ethnic minorities in computer science (CS) and other fields of science. The unconscious bias (UB) of teachers and others may contribute to these gaps. Related story. (March 21)

Leading for Equity
The Aspen  Institute and Council of Chief State Education Officers

Every student deserves an education that prepares him or her for lifelong learning, success in the world of work, and participation in representative government. Unfortunately, far too many students are not receiving the high quality educational experiences needed to help them reach these goals. Related story. (February 3)

Mobility Report Cards:  The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility
Multiple Contributors

Education has long been cast as the “great equalizer” of American society. Post-secondary colleges, and in particular public universities, are especially prized as engines of upward mobility. As research shows, some institutions are more effective in this regard than others. Related story. (February 3)


Bridging the Computer Science Education Gap: Five Actions States Can Take
Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Commission on computer and Information Technology

This report offers five actions for states and schools to help more young people — especially girls, black and Hispanic students, and students from low-income families — learn computer science and explore and choose careers in computing fields. Executive Summary. Introduction.(December 16)

Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education – Key Data Highlights Focusing on Race and Ethnicity and Promising Practices
U.S. Department of Education

A bachelor’s degree can be one of the surest pathways to economic advancement, but this report indicates that access to that opportunity has grown increasingly unequal over the past few decades. Related story. (November 22)

Do Low-Income Students Have Equal Access to Effective Teachers? Evidence from 26 Districts
Institute of Education Sciences – U.S. Department of Education

Some findings: High- and low-income students have similar chances of being taught by the most effective teachers and the least effective teachers. There are small differences in the effectiveness of teachers of high- and low-income students in the average study district. Executive summary. Related story. (November 8)

Teacher Race and School Discipline

Across the United States, black and Latino students are far more likely than their white classmates to be removed from school as punishment. Related story. (November 3)

Have Gender Gaps in Math Closed? Achievement, Teacher Perceptions, and Learning Behaviors Across Two ECLS-K Cohorts
AERA – Open

The gender gap in math may start at kindergarten ― and preschool teachers may unintentionally play some role in it. Abstract. Related story. (November 3)

High School Benchmarks National College Progression Rates
National Student Clearinghouse

Forty-five percent of students graduating in the class of 2009 from higher-income high schools completed a college degree by 2015, compared to 24 percent of students from low-income schools, Press release. Related story. (November 3)

Diversity Gaps in Computer Science: Exploring the Underrepresentation of Girls, Blacks and Hispanics

Black and Hispanic students are consistently at a disadvantage when it comes to computer science education opportunities. In addition to racial disparities, gender disparities exist as well. Related story. (October 24)

The Radicalized Construction of Exceptionality; Experimental Evidence of Race/Ethnicity Effects on Teachers’ Interventions
New York University

Racial bias among educators may play a larger role than previously understood in deciding whether students are referred for special education or gifted programs. Related story. (October 21)

School Integration in Practice:  Lessons from Nine Districts
The Century Foundation

This study from a think tank focused on inequity, found that 100 school districts and charter schools across the country are currently pursuing socioeconomic diversity plans — a number that has more than doubled since 2007. Related story. (October 19)

Psychological and Biological Responses to Race-based Social Stress as Pathways to Disparities in Educational Outcomes
Northwestern University

Physiological and psychological responses to race-based stressors may contribute to the persistent achievement gap between white and nonwhite students. Abstract (there is a charge for the full report). Related story. (October 12)

Building Better Narratives in Black Education
Urban League/educationpost/United Negro College Fund

This finds strong support among African-American communities for high, comparable education standards. More than nine in 10 respondents believe college- and career-ready expectations will better prepare their children for success after high school. (September 16)

Divided America: After Recovery, Many Poor Schools Left Behind
Associated Press

Consider Waukegan and Stevenson, two Illinois school districts separated by 20 miles — and an enormous financial gulf.  Stevenson, mostly white, is flush with resources. Meanwhile Waukegan, with its mostly minority student body, is struggling. (September 6)

America After 3 p.m. Special Report: After School in Communities of Concentrated Poverty
Afterschool Alliance

There may be an access gap to after-school programs among low-income families living in areas of concentrated poverty. Executive summary. Related story. (September 1)

Fault Lines – America’s Most Segregating School District Borders

This report explores the most staggering educational fault lines in the country – specifically, the pairs of contiguous districts where the distance between the haves and the have-nots is greater than anywhere else, nationally and within each state. Related story. (August 30)

Recent Trends in Income, Racial and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Level
Stanford University

Low-income kindergartners are entering school with stronger math and reading skills, narrowing the academic gap with their affluent peers and reversing a decades-old trend. Abstract. Related story. Related story. (August 29)

Hidden in Plain Sight – Homeless Students in America’s Public Schools
Civic Enterprises and Hart Research Associates

In the 2013-14 school year, there were more than 1.3 million homeless students, a 7 percent increase from the previous year and more than double the number in 2006-07. While that number is troubling, researchers believe it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Related story. (August 26)

Gender Performance Gaps: Quasi-Experimental Evidence on the Role of Gender Differences in Sleep Cycles

Sleep studies suggest that girls go to sleep earlier, are more active in the morning, and cope with sleep deprivation better than boys. This study claims to “provide the first causal evidence on how gender differences in sleep cycles can help explain the gender performance gap.” (August 8)

My Brothers Keeper Initiative Kicks Off in New York With Family Engagement, Teacher Diversity Grants

New York state officials are kicking off an ambitious plan to boost educational outcomes for boys and young men of color with $9 million in grants. (July 20)

Dividing Lines – Gated School Districts – Second Annual Report on Student Poverty

The way we fund schools in the United States creates incentives for communities to segregate along socioeconomic lines in order to preserve local wealth. In so doing, communities create arbitrary borders that serve to lock students into, or out of, opportunity. Related story. (July 18)

Key Data Highlights on Equity and Opportunity Gaps in Our Nation’s Public Schools
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights

2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection measures student access to courses, programs, instructional and other staff, and resources — as well as school climate factors, such as student discipline and bullying and harassment — that impact education equity and opportunity for students. Related story. (June 14)

Black preschool kids get suspended much more frequently than white preschool kids, U.S. survey says
Los Angeles Times

Schools suspend minority students at much higher rates than their peers, starting from the beginning, preschool. Related story. (June 8)

7 Findings That Illustrate Racial Disparities in Education

Here is a list of seven findings about racial disparities in education that scholars and contributors at the Brookings Institution have highlighted over the past year. Related story:  How to Change White Teachers’ Lenses (Slate). (June 7)

Schools and Economic Integration
City Commentary

There’s a growing body of evidence that economic integration—avoiding the separation of rich and poor into distinct neighborhoods—is an important ingredient in promoting widely shared opportunity. (June 1)

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 gentrification, rather 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)

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. (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 storyPress 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 storyRelated storyRelated 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)