NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Academic Achievement Gap in Grades 3 to 8

Charles T. Clotfelter, Helen F. Ladd, Jacob L. Vigdor

NBER Working Paper No. 12207
Issued in May 2006
NBER Program(s):   ED

Using data for North Carolina public school students in grades 3 to 8, we examine achievement gaps between white students and students from other racial and ethnic groups. We focus on successive cohorts of students who stay in the state's public schools for all six years, and study both differences in means and in quantiles. Our results on achievement gaps between black and white students are consistent with those from other longitudinal studies: the gaps are sizable, are robust to controls for measures of socioeconomic status, and show no monotonic trend between 3rd and 8th grade. In contrast, both Hispanic and Asian students tend to gain on whites as they progress through these grades. Looking beyond simple mean differences, we find that the racial gaps in math between low-performing students have tended to shrink as students progress through school, while racial gaps between high-performing students have widened for black and American Indian students.

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This paper was revised on November 21, 2007

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12207

Published: Charles T Clotfelter & Helen F Ladd & Jacob L Vigdor, 2009. "The Academic Achievement Gap in Grades 3 to 8," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 398-419, October. citation courtesy of

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