Rich, Poor Kids Face Widening Education Gap

Achievement divide soars since 1960s, studies say

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 10, 2012 1:18 PM CST

(Newser) – There's a vast gap in educational success between lower-income and wealthy children, studies say—a divide that has received relatively little attention until now. In recent decades, the achievement gap between rich and poor children has grown as the gap between black and white students has shrunk, the New York Times reports. "We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race," says a Stanford sociologist.

His research suggests that the gap between wealthy and poor students' standardized test scores has increased 40% since the 1960s. Another study found that that since the late 1980s, the gap between the groups' college completion rates has grown 50%. And with data ending in 2008, "there’s a good chance the recession may have widened the gap" even further, says the Stanford professor. Among the multitude of reasons for the disparity: Wealthy parents are spending record amounts of time and money on their kids, while lower-income families are increasingly run by a single parent whose time is limited. Click through for more on the education gap.

There is a growing gap between wealthy and low-income children's educational success.
There is a growing gap between wealthy and low-income children's educational success.   (Shutterstock)
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