NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Long-run Trends in the U.S. SES-Achievement Gap

Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, Laura M. Talpey, Ludger Woessmann

NBER Working Paper No. 26764
Issued in February 2020
NBER Program(s):Children, Economics of Education, Labor Studies, Public Economics

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26764

 
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