The Unwavering SES Achievement Gap: Trends in U.S. Student Performance

53 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2019

See all articles by Eric A. Hanushek

Eric A. Hanushek

Stanford University - Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Paul E. Peterson

Harvard University - Department of Government (FAS); Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Laura Talpey

Stanford University

Ludger Woessmann

Ifo Institute for Economic Research; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); University of Munich - Ifo Institute for Economic Research

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 19, 2019

Abstract

Concerns about the breadth of the U.S. income distribution and limited intergenerational mobility have led to a focus on educational achievement gaps by socio-economic status (SES). Using intertemporally linked assessments from NAEP, TIMSS, and PISA, we trace the achievement of U.S. student cohorts born between 1954 and 2001. Achievement gaps between the top and bottom deciles and the top and bottom quartiles of the SES distribution have been large and remarkably constant for a near half century. These unwavering gaps have not been offset by overall improvements in achievement levels, which have risen at age 14 but remained unchanged at age 17 for the most recent quarter century. The long-term failure of major educational policies to alter SES gaps suggests a need to reconsider standard approaches to mitigating disparities.

JEL Classification: H4, I2, J24

Suggested Citation

Hanushek, Eric A. and Peterson, Paul E. and Talpey, Laura and Woessmann, Ludger, The Unwavering SES Achievement Gap: Trends in U.S. Student Performance (March 19, 2019). HKS Working Paper No. RWP19-012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3357905 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3357905

Eric A. Hanushek

Stanford University - Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States
650-736-0942 (Phone)
650-723-1687 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Paul E. Peterson (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Government (FAS) ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-8312 (Phone)
617-496-4428 (Fax)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-8312 (Phone)
617-496-4428 (Fax)

Laura Talpey

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Ludger Woessmann

Ifo Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Poschingerstr. 5
Munich
Germany
++49 89 9224 1699 (Phone)
++49 89 9224 1460 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cesifo.de/link/woessmann_l.htm

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

University of Munich - Ifo Institute for Economic Research

Schackstr. 4
Munich, 80539
Germany

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