Surprising truths about the achievment gap in education

Professor Sean Reardon of Stanford University has a fascinating article in the New York Times today (“No Rich Child left Behind”) about what really lies at the root of the growing achievement gap in the American education system.

Here are some of his findings:

  • The gap between poor and rich kids is growing.
  • The gap is not about race as much as it is about income.
  • The gap is not a product of “failing” schools; average American are smarter and perform better than their parents.
  • Much of the gap is attributable to early childhood education — especially the challenging and stimulating upbringings that wealthy parents are providing to their pre-school children.
  • The gap appears to be self-reinforcing; smarter, higher achieving kids end up with better, higher-paying jobs and the wherewithal to help their children.
  • Improving our early childhood parenting may be even more important than improving our schools and teachers.

Read Reardon’s entire article by clicking here. It’s clearly food for thought. 



  1. Doug

    April 29, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Don’t forget about desire. I have seen plenty of people whose parents and upbringing would conform to your premise, but the kids do not have the desire to do well and thus are in the same boat. By the same token I have seen the opposite happen too.

    If the kid grows up in an environment where education is encouraged and valued then that wins the battle more than money in most cases. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who are culturally more interested in celebrities, sports, pop culture, or producing a new kid to get more welfare than they are in encouraging their kids.

  2. RJ

    April 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Doug sayeth: “If the kid grows up in an environment where education is encouraged and valued then that wins the battle more than money in most cases.”

    I sayeth: “Prove it, especially the ‘most cases’ part.”

    And the “producing a new kid to get more welfare” line really takes me back to the Reagan years, when I came of age politically… If those terrible parents spent their welfare riches on Hooked on Phonics instead of T-bones and gas for the Cadillac, their kids would all go to Yale, amirite? Is it racist of me to tell you that your hood is showing?

  3. Jack

    April 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    You’ve heard the phrase “dumbing down American.” It’s an insulting phrase. The phrase does not evoke a thought as to what an education system designed to create an ever widening educational gap, in the form of an overly public funded charter school system and underfunded public school system, will do to NC. The widening educational gap will increase segregation and discrimination along an economic continuum. The phrase trivializes that the widening educational gap will create the harsh realities of diminished quality of life, standard of living, income, opportunity, life expectancy, and increased indebtedness.

    This is has been proven time and time again throughout history. Why were their laws against slaves learning to read? Education is a basic element of being a participant in life and certainly in society.

    There are those who welcome a widening educational gap and other restrictive measures because they want a clear gap that is between the HAVES and HAVE NOTS. They are depending on it for their livelihood and benefit.

  4. Doug

    April 30, 2013 at 9:52 am

    As was told to me on a prior blog. I am not here to spoon feed you your research. If you are too lazy to look it up, I can’t help you.

    The whole educational industrial complex is primarily concerned with constantly increasing funds and headcount in administrative positions vs. providing children with a good education. It has nothing to do with a charter school or traditional school. If you look at the budget for most counties, and the state…what is one of the highest funded categories? It would be the schools, and only having 100 charter schools is far from a drain on the traditional government schools.

    You know what the true drian is? Take Guilford county as an example. They came up with this great idea several years ago to hire 4-5 Assistant Superintendents at six figure salaries to in effect split the schools up into multiple districts, with all the administrative staff and costs to go with it. This is after the state requires counties to consolidate districts for efficiency. No…..what is the problem is that government is involved, with the power that comes with it, and the ego that then contributes to the grandiose plans.

    Remember with government you always get an inferior product, that costs more, and you get less of it. In this case you have bloated school budgets weighted to administrative programs, poorly educated students, and fewer prepared citizens.

  5. RJ

    April 30, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Doug, I’m shocked that you were called out for blowing the race dog whistle on another site…

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