Have Income-Based Achievement Gaps Widened or Narrowed?

73 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2020 Last revised: 24 Mar 2022

See all articles by Shirin Hashim

Shirin Hashim

Harvard University

Thomas J. Kane

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Public Policy & Social Research; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Thomas Kelley-Kemple

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Mary Laski

Brown University

Douglas Staiger

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: August 2020

Abstract

Over the past 30 years, rising income inequality and income-based residential segregation have threatened to widen income-based achievement gaps, even as school accountability and school finance reform efforts have attempted to narrow them. Yet, no national dataset measures both parental income and achievement in a consistent way for individual students over time. We take two alternative approaches to inferring income-based achievement gaps: First, we reconstruct the student-level relationship using school-level estimates of means and variances of achievement and income. Second, we combine estimates of mean income by race, mother’s education, urbanicity and state with mean achievement for the corresponding subgroups on a national assessment. Using both methods, we find that income-based achievement gaps in 4th and 8th grade narrowed between 1992 and 2015—while math scores rose at all income levels.

Suggested Citation

Hashim, Shirin and Kane, Thomas J. and Kelley-Kemple, Thomas and Laski, Mary and Staiger, Douglas, Have Income-Based Achievement Gaps Widened or Narrowed? (August 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27714, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3679707

Shirin Hashim (Contact Author)

Harvard University

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Thomas J. Kane

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Public Policy & Social Research ( email )

Box 951656
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Thomas Kelley-Kemple

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

456 Gutman Library
6 appian way
cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Mary Laski

Brown University

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Douglas Staiger

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-643-2979 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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