Socioeconomic, Racial, and Gender Gaps in Children's Social/Behavioral Skills: Do They Grow Faster in School or Out?
34 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 15, 2017
Children’s social and behavioral skills differ considerably by socioeconomic status (SES), race/ethnicity, and gender, yet it is unclear to what degree these differences are due to school or non-school factors. We observe how gaps in social and behavioral skills change during school and non-school periods from the start of kindergarten entry until the end of second grade in a recent and nationally representative sample of over 16,000 children (the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study — Kindergarten Cohort of 2010-11). We find that large gaps in social and behavioral skills exist at the start of kindergarten entry, and these gaps favor high-SES, white, and female children. But over the next three years the gaps grow no faster when school is in than when school is out. As evidence from school year-summer comparisons mounts, the notion that schools are a pernicious institution exacerbating inequality is increasingly difficult to maintain. In the case of social and behavioral skills, it appears that schools neither exacerbate inequality nor reduce it.
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