Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Kindergarten Readiness Gaps Narrow

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Kindergarten Readiness Gaps Narrow

Article excerpt

New research suggests that the income achievement gap for kindergartners can be reduced.

In a sharp reversal of a decades-long trend, the gap in kindergarten academic readiness between high- and low-income students narrowed by 10% to 16% between 1998 and 2010, according to new research by Sean Reardon, a professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford University, and Ximena A. Portilla, a research associate at MDRC.

And, looking at findings from a separate study, Reardon also suggests that growing parent involvement in early learning may be what helped reduce the gap and could suggest new strategies for continuing the improvement.

Over the previous two decades, the academic achievement gap for cohorts of children born in the mid-1970s and mid-1990s had grown by about 40%. Despite the narrowing of kindergarten readiness gaps, they still remain large. If the gaps continued to decline at the same pace, the researchers said they would not be eliminated for another 60 to 110 years.

Drawing from data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Reardon and Portilla compared the reading, writing, and math skills of roughly 17,000 incoming kindergartners in 2010 to those of about 20,000 students who entered in 1998. To examine the income gap, the authors compared students from families at the 10th and 90th percentiles of the income distribution.

"Given that income inequality in the United States has continued to rise in the 2000s, we expected that the gap in school readiness would also continue to grow, but instead it has narrowed," Reardon said. …

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