A new study by Sean F. Reardon, associate professor of education and director of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Program in Quantitative Education Policy Analysis at Stanford University, finds that income inequality had a far more profound impact on the academic achievement gap than racial differences. Dr. Reardon’s research finds that the achievement gap between children from high-income and low-income families is significantly greater than the achievement gap between White and Black students.
Professor Reardon states that a half-century ago, the racial gap was one and a half times greater than the gap between students from high- and low-income families. The reason for the achievement gap between students from high- and low-income families is not because children from poor families are doing worse than in the past. In fact, their test scores tend to be higher. But the gap is greater due to the fact that children from high-income families are doing much better than was the case in the past.
A copy of the study may be downloaded here. The study is also a chapter in the book Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances (Russell Sage Foundation, 2011).