Long-Run Trends in the U.S. SES-Achievement Gap

85 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2020

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

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Abstract

Rising inequality in the United States has raised concerns about potentially widening gaps in educational achievement by socio-economic status (SES). Using assessments from LTT-NAEP, Main-NAEP, TIMSS, and PISA that are psychometrically linked over time, we trace trends in achievement for U.S. student cohorts born between 1954 and 2001. Achievement gaps between 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 improved achievement levels, which have risen at age 14 but have remained unchanged at age 17 for the past quarter century.

Keywords: student achievement, inequality, socio-economic status, United States, NAEP, TIMSS, PISA

JEL Classification: H4, I24, J24

Suggested Citation

Hanushek, Eric A. and Peterson, Paul E. and Talpey, Laura and Woessmann, Ludger, Long-Run Trends in the U.S. SES-Achievement Gap. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12971, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3542640 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3542640

Eric A. Hanushek (Contact Author)

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

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Laura Talpey

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Ludger Woessmann

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