The great equalizer in American society has traditionally been education. In fact President Johnson’s war on poverty focused on using education as means for lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a growing body of research suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects.

Analyses of longitudinal data recently published by Dr. Sean Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist, found that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown 40% during the same period.

Additional research by Dr. Meredith Phillips, an associate professor of public policy and sociology at UCLA, found that by the time high-income children start school, they have spent about 400 hours more than poor children in literacy activities.  Moreover, the children of high income households are spending 1,300 more hours than low-income children before age 6 in places other than their homes & day care centers/schools (e.g. museums, libraries, shopping malls, etc.).

Below is an article with suggestions on how to boost the educational outcomes of children from low-income families:

This research is not new. In fact, two books from the 1990’s, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children by Todd Risely & Betty Hart and Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol, point out the gaps in educational opportunity and experience between the poor and wealthy in America.

Click here to see summaries and thoughts about the Hart & Risley research:

To continue the theme from my previous blog, identifying educational and societal problems is often easy and obvious; the hard part is what, as educators, can we do?  The simple answer is we can do a lot!  Risley and Hart recommend we design pre-k and kindergarten settings to ensure the amount of talk actually going on, moment by moment, between children and their caregivers is providing positive interactions and experiences with adults who take the time to teach vocabulary, oral language concepts, and emergent literacy concepts.

If you are early education provider, please share your thoughts on what has worked for you and resources that might help others.
You can also contact Successful Schools and request our free materials regarding how to set-up effective preschool and kindergarten classrooms.

Additionally, check-out the free downloadable lessons & resources for preschool educators from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte Behavior and Reading Improvement Center: