Achievement Gap In Education

Submitted By andrewxychen
Words: 2961
Pages: 12

Ever since Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment, the United States has ensured equal citizenship rights to fulfill the promise of racial equality. However, in many aspects, a huge gap still exists between the white majority and the other minorities. A report by the Pew Research Center shows that "the median net worth of white households in 2013 was $141,900, about 13 times that of black households at $11,000" (Kochhar and Fry). This huge wealth disparity, according to numerous reports and studies, is one of the many direct results of minority children's underperformance in school. Thus, in order to adequately address the achievement gap, or the disparity between performance of different groups of students, federal and state governments need to allocate more funds into implementing the programs that work. The achievement gap has been an issue in the United States for a long time. A National Assessment of Educational Progress' report conducted in 1970 reveals that there is a persistent 30 point gap in reading and math scores between the white and black students at an age of nine (Barton and Coley). This significant disparity remains consistent throughout their youth, which eventually becomes a disadvantage for the minority students as they enter the job field. Because many of them grow up in poor families and have ill performances in school, they often have low paying jobs and living standards later on. Eliminating the achievement gap will improve the United States' economy drastically. According to Ben Jealous, an American political leader, "closing the [achievement gap] by 2050 would boost our economy by $2.3 trillion" (Jealous). By raising the annual income of minority families, the U.S. economy will pick up accordingly too, and one of the most direct ways to do so is to decrease the achievement gap. A research conducted by McKinsey & Company, a multinational management consulting firm, also shows a similar result. It finds that "the education achievement gap in the United States imposes the economic equivalent of a permanent recession on the nation" (McKinsey&Company), which reaffirms the direct correlation between the achievement gap and the U.S. economy. The federal and state governments, however, are failing to address the achievement gap. Instead of decreasing, it has significantly grown over the past decades despite the many attempted solutions (Tavernise). Sean Reardon, a professor of poverty in education and sociology at Stanford, conducted a study observing the relationship between academic achievement and family income over the past 50 years. The study shows that the reading achievement gap among children born in the 1950s had a standard deviation of about 0.9 between those from high-income families and those from low-income families. Among the cohorts born 40 years after, the gap in standardized test scores widened to a standard deviation of roughly 1.25—a 40 percent increase (Reardon). As the statistics show, students from low-income families continue to fall behind, even when the federal and state government implement educational programs directly addressing the achievement gap. One of the most direct causes of the achievement gap is the insufficient funding of schools. Because nearly half of school funds come from local property taxes, there is usually a disparity in funding for schools due to the variance of tax revenue in each district. A report shows that in Massachusetts, the web of school-choice options is unevenly distributed for the low-income families (Vaishnav 5). Because students from low-income families are often left with poor schools, they have unequal access to high-quality education and are more likely to perform worse than students from high-income families. A comprehensive study produced by University of Chicago researchers also shows a similar result, stating that "a broad range of resources [are] positively related to student outcomes, with effect sizes large enough to suggest