A recent study finds that “kindergarten readiness gaps” between students of different socioeconomic statuses and races have narrowed in recent years, as measured by achievement in math, reading, self-control, and other factors. However, these gaps are still substantial.
“It's narrowed and that's great. But it's still huge,” explained the study’s lead author, Sean Reardon, a Stanford University professor. “The low-income kids are coming in about six to nine months in readiness behind the high-income kids still. So that's a big difference, knowing how fast kids learn in kindergarten. If the rate continued at which it is now, it would still take something like 60 to 110 years, we calculated, for the gap to be eliminated. It's narrowing at a measurable rate. But it’s not narrowing fast enough that it's going to reduce this to nothing in our lifetimes.”
However, another study finds that a narrowing in the school readiness gap might not have a lasting impact on achievement gaps throughout students K-12 education.
“Once students enter school, however, the gap between white and black children grows, even after controlling for observable influences,” explain Roland G. Fryer and Steven D. Levitt in an EducationNext article.
Roland G. Fryer and Steven D. Levitt , Education Next, Falling Behind (Fall 2004)
Sean F. Reardon and Ximena A. Portilla, Recent Trends in Income, Racial, and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry (Aug. 2016)
Eric Westervelt, nprED, Surprise! Amid Rising Inequality, One School Gap Is Narrowing (Aug. 28, 2016)Jeremy Hay, EdSource, Kindergarten readiness gap between low-income and higher-income students shrinking (Sept. 7, 2016)