- Researchers from Stanford University and nonprofit, nonpartisan research firm MDRC found that low-income kindergarten students have reversed the trend of growing academic achievement gaps between them and their higher-income peers.
- The Washington Post reports academic achievement gaps grew from the 1970s to the 1990s, but from 1998 to 2010, the period of study, gaps shrank 10-16% — though the margin of error made it unclear whether the black-white achievement gap shrank at all.
- Stanford University Professor Sean Reardon says low-income parents seem to be responding to public information campaigns about how to support early literacy and embracing many of the strategies higher-income parents have employed for years.
Because academic achievement is closely tied to wealth and inequality continues to rise, the updated achievement gap findings are surprising. Many organizations have launched comprehensive outreach campaigns to new parents through hospitals and doctors’ offices, community agencies and churches. Harvard University researchers developed the five-pronged Boston Basics and are working to blanket the metro area with easy-to-follow tips for positive child development. Vroom, a free initiative of the Bezos Foundation, has its own Brain Building Basics and a video that helps parents master them.
Schools across the country have convened early childhood parent groups and charged administrators with outreach to their district’s future kindergartners and their families. Birth to age 3 is a critical time in a child’s learning, but schools have traditionally had little contact with families of the youngest children. The urgency of school improvement efforts, however, have forced a change.