Kindergarten readiness gap between low-income and higher-income students shrinking

September 07, 2016

By Jeremy Hay

Persistent gaps in kindergarten readiness between children from low-income families and their higher-income peers — which have continued as ongoing achievement gaps in later years — appear to be narrowing, new research shows. And in a related finding, another report has concluded that lower-income parents are investing more time and effort in their younger children.

The academic readiness gap between low- and higher-income children closed by 10 percent in math and 16 percent in reading between 1998 and 2010, according to a study by Sean Reardon, a professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford University, and Ximena Portilla, a research associate at MDRC, a nonprofit research organization. The gap was measured through large-scale comparisons of math, reading and writing skills.

Their report, “Recent Trends in Income, Racial and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry,” was released Aug. 26 in AERA Open, a journal of the American Educational Research Association. The other report, which Reardon also worked on, was released simultaneously in AERA Open and is titled “Socioeconomic Gaps in Early Childhood Experiences, 1998 to 2010.”