Causes of the Achievement Gap in USA

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The Achievement Gap in the United States is a long-standing problem. The gap between rich and poor students is often attributed to factors such as family background, discipline, and schooling. However, alternative measures suggest that there has been little progress in the last two decades. While the gap remains large, it is narrowing. Below are some causes for this issue. Let's take a look at some of the most common.


A new study shows that racial differences in achievement and discipline are linked. The findings are modest, but significant after extensive covariate adjustment. These findings provide an important first step in understanding the causes of persistent inequality. Earlier research has suggested that racial differences in achievement and discipline may be correlated. However, further research is needed to determine the extent to which these gaps may affect children's lives.

A new study from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Open examined the relationship between racial disparities and academic achievement gaps. It found that a ten-point increase in the black-white discipline gap predicted an achievement gap that was 17 percent larger than the national average. The study is the first to analyze the relationship in both directions. However, future research should examine the relationship between achievement and discipline. And while these results show that achievement gap data are related to race, they do not fully explain it.

While the relationship between race and discipline isn't direct, it is still very real. One study found that black students were six times more likely to be suspended than white students. However, some people believe that discipline is more dependent on family circumstances than on racial differences, which explains the elevated rates of discipline among Latino and low-income students. Regardless of the causes of the disparity, the study suggests that discipline and achievement should be addressed with greater attention.

Family background

A new study suggests that the educational achievement gap between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers is largely due to their family backgrounds. Despite a century of attempts to level the playing field, the gap between children from low-income and high-income families has remained stagnant. Research from York University has shown that family background not only affects educational achievement, but it also ensures that inequalities are perpetuated through the generations.

The achievement gap, also known as the opportunity gap, is the difference in educational achievement between different groups of students. This is particularly noticeable between students of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds. Even in the United States, this achievement gap persists. For example, black and Hispanic students score lower on standardized tests in math and reading than their white counterparts. Moreover, students with higher economic resources outperform their less affluent peers. The New York Times created an interactive graphic that demonstrates the achievement gap between white and black children.

Although race and class are a significant predictor of educational attainment, The Bell Curve has since been largely discredited. Some scholars argue that achievement gaps are largely due to subtle environmental factors. Low-income families often have fewer educational resources at home and experience poor health care and nutrition. As a result, children from poor families have higher dropout rates than those from higher-income families. But the evidence suggests that this disparity can be eliminated.


The racial achievement gap is not solely due to poverty. In fact, the difference in achievement levels is caused by other factors, such as policy differences and socioeconomic circumstances. When the two sides integrate, the gaps will be less pronounced, as the income level of each group will equalize. The book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was published in 1967, and most of the quotes that are attributed to him are from that book.

This study shows that the achievement gap narrows in kindergarten, as measured by math, reading, and self-control. The achievement gap does not narrow in K-12 education, however. Even after controlling for the other observable variables, the achievement gap remains large. This has ramifications for students, schools, and communities. Let's look at a few of them. We'll look at what each one is capable of.

The national standardized test results reveal that white students outperform their Hispanic counterparts. Similarly, black and Hispanic students are lower on average in math and reading than their white counterparts. And American students rank far behind their peers in other developed nations. A recent interactive graphic developed by The New York Times outlines the disparities in student performance and educational attainment. This information may be useful in making policy changes.


Inequalities in opportunity and outcomes have been widely studied. The Achievement Gap in the United States is significantly larger than in many comparable countries. The achievement gap is primarily driven by differences in low-income and minority status. However, few studies have examined changes in the Achievement Gap over time and across cohorts. These changes in the achievement gap over time can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of educational policies and strategies. To understand the causes of the Achievement Gap in the USA, we must examine how segregation affects children's educational opportunities.

The socioeconomic Achievement Gap among children born in the 1950s is extremely large. In fact, there is about a 1.0 standard deviation difference between the top and bottom deciles. One standard deviation is equivalent to four years' worth of education. Unfortunately, this gap has not narrowed over the past 50 years. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to address the Achievement Gap in the USA. So, take a moment to consider the possibilities.

The persistent Achievement Gap in the USA is costly to the economy. McKinsey estimates that the US economy lost $2.3 trillion in 2008 because of underutilization of human potential. The authors' analysis of data shows that low-achieving schools are concentrated disproportionately among minority and low-income students. In California, black and Latino students are nearly four times as likely to attend the lowest-achieving schools as their white counterparts. This is because the education system is more likely to fail students from low-income backgrounds than they are to succeed in higher-income neighborhoods.

School closings

The recent pandemic in the United States caused many schools to close for weeks. This event amplified the digitalization of education and increased parental involvement. The effect of the pandemic may be a useful case study to examine how school closings affect the achievement gap. Moreover, school closures affect parents as well. Inequality in education is a widespread problem, but this one may be the most serious.

One problem with extended school closures is that the educational system in the United States is not designed to deal with such prolonged disruptions. Although teachers may do their best to keep learning alive, it is unlikely to produce a quality education. The country already has persistent achievement gaps between students from poor neighborhoods and students of rich communities. School closings could compound achievement gaps and cause more dropouts, which would have serious consequences not only for students but for the country as a whole.

Another challenge is the economic impact of school closures. In addition to the loss of student productivity, school closings cause a strain on health-care systems. Health-care workers cannot easily attend work with their children because of childcare obligations. This can be especially problematic during times of health crisis. School closures put a disproportionate burden on local schools. They can also cause social unrest as parents are forced to care for their children.

Racial achievement gaps

Racial achievement gaps in the USA persist despite recent progress in educational equity. Specifically, studies have shown that the performance of blacks and Hispanics in school is far below the level of their white peers. Yet, the authors of this recent study have found that differences in exposure to minority schoolmates are responsible for a small fraction of the achievement gap. Exposure to minority neighbors has a larger effect. The results are not surprising, given that minority students in California are disproportionately affected by racial discrimination.

While racial achievement gaps are still largely based on the socioeconomic status of families, other factors have a significant impact on educational outcomes. For example, higher-income parents provide better opportunities to their children. And, as the parents of Black and Hispanic children are typically poorer, these gaps can be further complicated by state educational policies. Racial achievement gaps are a sign of a broader problem in the education system and must be addressed.

While white-black achievement gaps have decreased by around 30% since the 1970s, black-white achievement gaps remain large. The gap between black and Hispanic students in mathematics and reading is about half a standard deviation. In math, the achievement gap is a significant one. Despite this, it is also notable that black-white students outperform whites by as much as four years of school. And the gap between black and Hispanic students is hardly as significant as it was in the 1970s.

June 15, 2022
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