Trends in the Black-White Achievement Gap:Clarifying the Meaning of Within- and Between-School Achievement Gaps

62 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2008 Last revised: 2 Sep 2008

See all articles by Lindsay C. Page

Lindsay C. Page

University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Richard J. Murnane

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John B. Willett

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Date Written: August 2008

Abstract

We decompose black-white achievement gap trends between 1971 and 2004 into trends in within- and between-school differences. We show that the previous finding that narrowing within-school inequality explains most of the decline in the black-white achievement gap between 1971 and 1988 is sensitive to methodology. Employing a more detailed partition of achievement differences, we estimate that 40 percent of the narrowing of the gap through the 1970s and 1980s is attributable to the narrowing of within-school differences between black and white students. Further, the consequences for achievement of attending a high minority school became increasingly deleterious between 1971 and 1999.

Suggested Citation

Page, Lindsay C. and Murnane, Richard J. and Willett, John B., Trends in the Black-White Achievement Gap:Clarifying the Meaning of Within- and Between-School Achievement Gaps (August 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14213. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1230841

Lindsay C. Page

University of Pittsburgh School of Education ( email )

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Richard J. Murnane (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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John B. Willett

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3401 (Phone)

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