Trending Topic Research File: Achievement Gaps
Trending Topic Research File: Achievement Gaps
Achievement Gaps

Trending Topic Research File

Achievement gaps demonstrating differences in academic performance between students of different genders, races, and income levels are prevalent in school districts across the country, and researchers continue examining strategies to ensure that all students are receiving quality education and producing proficient educational outcomes.

The following compendium of open-access articles are inclusive of all substantive AERA journal content regarding achievement gaps published since 2013. This page will be updated as new articles are published. 

Note: Articles are listed below in reverse chronological order of publication. 

When Does Inequality Grow? A Seasonal Analysis of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Learning From Kindergarten Through Eighth Grade
Megan Kuhfeld, Dennis J. Condron, Doug B. Downey
Educational Researcher, December 2020.
Researchers found that Black-White achievement gaps widen during school periods and shrink during summers. Asian students generally pull ahead of White students at a faster rate during summers.

The College Preparatory Pipeline: Disparate Stages in Academic Opportunities
Heather E. Price
American Educational Research Journal, November 2020.
Researchers found that leaks in the college preparatory pipeline divert out historically marginalized students.

Bias in the Air: A Nationwide Exploration of Teachers’ Implicit Racial Attitudes, Aggregate Bias, and Student Outcomes
Mark J. Chin, David M. Quinn, Tasminda K. Dhaliwal, Virginia S. Lovison
Educational Researcher, July 2020.
Researchers found that teachers’ implicit White/Black biases vary by teacher gender and race. Teachers’ adjusted bias levels are lower in counties with larger shares of Black students.

School’s Out: The Role of Summers in Understanding Achievement Disparities
Allison Atteberry, Andrew McEachin
American Educational Research Journal, July 2020.
Researchers found that while some students actually maintain their school-year learning rate, others lose nearly all their school-year progress.

Experimental Effects of “Achievement Gap” News Reporting on Viewers’ Racial Stereotypes, Inequality Explanations, and Inequality Prioritization
David M. Quinn
Educational Researcher, June 2020.
Researchers found that a TV news story about racial achievement gaps (vs. a control or counterstereotypical video) led viewers to express more exaggerated stereotypes of Black Americans as lacking education and may have increased viewers’ implicit stereotyping of Black students as less competent than White students.

Trends in Children’s Academic Skills at School Entry: 2010 to 2017
Megan Kuhfeld, James Soland, Christine Pitts, Margaret Burchinal
Educational Researcher, June 2020.
Researchers found that kindergarteners in 2017 had moderately lower math and reading skills than in 2010, but that inequalities at school entry by race/ethnicity and school poverty level decreased during that period.

Gender Test Score Gaps Under Equal Behavioral Engagement
Jaymes Pyne
Educational Researcher, June 2020.
This study found that equal engagement patterns could entirely reverse girls’ average leads over boys in fifth-grade reading test scores and could more than triple the gender gap in average math test scores currently favoring boys.

Low-Income Female Students and the Reversal of the Black-White Gap in High School Graduation
Brian Clark, Ying Shi
AERA Open, April 2020.
Researchers found that low-income White females graduate at rates 5 to 6 percentage points lower than Black peers despite having higher test scores.

Categorical Inequality in Black and White: Linking Disproportionality Across Multiple Educational Outcomes
Kenneth Shores, Ha Eun Kim, Mela Still
American Educational Research Journal, January 2020.
Researchers found that gaps in disciplinary action, grade-level retention, classification into special education and Gifted and Talented, and Advanced Placement course-taking are large in magnitude and correlated.

Deportations Near the Schoolyard: Examining Immigration Enforcement and Racial/Ethnic Gaps in Educational Outcomes
J. Jacob Kirksey, Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, Michael A. Gottfried, Jennifer Freeman, Christopher S. Ozuna
AERA Open, January 2020.
Researchers found that in the years when districts had more deportations occurring within 25 miles, White-Latino/a gaps were larger in math achievement and rates of chronic absenteeism.

Are Achievement Gaps Related to Discipline Gaps? Evidence From National Data
Francis A. Pearman, II, F. Chris Curran, Benjamin Fisher, Joseph Gardella
AERA Open, October 2019.
Researchers found that districts with larger racial discipline gaps have larger racial achievement gaps (and vice versa).

Socioeconomic Status and Academic Outcomes in Developing Countries: A Meta-Analysis
Sung won Kim, Hyunsun Cho, Lois Y. Kim
Review of Educational Research, September 2019.
Researchers found an overall weak relation between socioeconomic status and academic outcomes.

Mathematics Learning in Language Inclusive Classrooms: Supporting the Achievement of English Learners and Their English Proficient Peers
Geoffrey B. Saxe, Joshua Sussman
Educational Researcher, September 2019.
Researchers found that English language learners in Learning Mathematics Through Representations classrooms showed greater gains than comparison English language learners and gained at similar rates to their English proficient peers in Learning Mathematics Through Representations classrooms.

States as Sites of Educational (In)Equality: State Contexts and the Socioeconomic Achievement Gradient
Heewon Jang, Sean F. Reardon
AERA Open, September 2019.
Researchers found that socioeconomic gradients and their growth rates vary considerably among states, and that between-district income segregation is positively associated with the socioeconomic achievement gradient.

Do Schools Reduce or Exacerbate Inequality? How the Associations Between Student Achievement and Achievement Growth Influence Our Understanding of the Role of Schooling
Hanna Dumont, Douglas D. Ready
American Educational Research Journal, August 2019.
Researchers found that seasonal comparative scholars, who generally argue that schools play an equalizing role, and scholars focused on school compositional effects, who typically report that schools exacerbate inequality, come to these contrasting findings not only because they ask different questions but also because they treat student initial achievement differently when modeling student learning.

“Achievement Gap” Language Affects Teachers’ Issue Prioritization
David M. Quinn, Tara-Marie Desruisseaux, Akua Nkansah-Amankra
Educational Researcher, July 2019.
Researchers found that the phrase “racial achievement gap” elicits lower levels of issue prioritization than the phrase “racial inequality in educational outcomes” due to the latter’s connotations of social justice.

Early Elementary Science Instruction: Does More Time on Science or Science Topics/Skills Predict Science Achievement in the Early Grades?
F. Chris Curran, James Kitchin
AERA Open, July 2019.
Researchers found suggestive evidence that time on science instruction is related to science achievement but little evidence that the number of science topics/skills covered is related to greater science achievement.

Do Student Mindsets Differ by Socioeconomic Status and Explain Disparities in Academic Achievement in the United States?
Mesmin Destin, Paul Hanselman, Jenny Buontempo, Elizabeth Tipton, David S. Yeager
AERA Open, July 2019.
Researchers found that higher socioeconomic status was associated with fewer fixed beliefs about academic ability and that there was a negative association between a fixed mindset and grades that was similar regardless of a student’s socioeconomic status.

Gender Achievement Gaps in U.S. School Districts
Sean F. Reardon, Erin M. Fahle, Demetra Kalogrides, Anne Podolsky, Rosalía C. Zárate
American Educational Research Journal, April 2019.
Researchers found that the average U.S. school district has no gender achievement gap in math, but that there is a gap of roughly 0.23 standard deviations in English language arts that favors girls.

Does STEM Stand Out? Examining Racial/Ethnic Gaps in Persistence Across Postsecondary Fields
Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Barbara King, Yasmiyn Irizarry
Educational Researcher, February 2019.
Results of the study reveal evidence of persistent racial/ethnic inequality in STEM degree attainment not found in other fields.

Answering the Bell: High School Start Times and Student Academic Outcomes
Kevin C. Bastian, Sarah C. Fuller
AERA Open, November 2018.
Researchers found that urban high schools were likely to start very early or late. Later start times were associated with positive student engagement outcomes (reduced suspensions, higher course grades), especially for disadvantaged students.

The Impact of School SES on Student Achievement: Evidence From U.S. Statewide Achievement Data
David J. Armor, Gary N. Marks, Aron Malatinszky
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, July 2018.
Researchers found that large school SES effects often found in cross-sectional studies are artifacts of aggregation and are not a sound basis for SES-based school integration policies.

Student-Teacher Racial Match and Its Association With Black Student Achievement: An Exploration Using Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling
Lisa M. Yarnell, George W. Bohrnstedt
American Educational Research Journal, October 2017.
Researchers found that a match of Black male students with Black teachers is associated with higher reading scores for this group, as is a match of Black female students with a Black or Hispanic teacher.

Stress, Sleep, and Performance on Standardized Tests: Understudied Pathways to the Achievement Gap
Jennifer A. Heissel, Dorainne J. Levy, Emma K. Adam
AERA Open, June 2017.
Researchers found that stress, sleep, and cortisol vary by race-ethnicity and socioeconomic status, and as a result, they may serve as potential pathways contributing to racial-ethnic and socioeconomic achievement gaps.

The Relationship Between Test Item Format and Gender Achievement on Math and ELA Tests in Fourth and Eigth Grade Students
Sean F. Reardon, Demetra Kalogrides, Erin M. Fahle
Educational Researcher, September 2018.
Researchers found that estimated gaps are strongly associated with the proportions of the test scores based on multiple-choice and constructed-response questions on state accountability tests.

Will Public Pre-K Really Close Achievement Gaps? Gaps in Prekindergarten Quality Between Students and Across States
Rachel Valentino 
American Educational Research Journal, September 2017.
The researcher found large "quality gaps" in public pre-K between poor, minority students and non-poor, non-minority students.

Effects of a Summer Mathematics Intervention for Low-Income Children
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2017.
Researchers found that children being randomly assigned to the designated program plus laptop condition caused them to experience significantly higher reported levels of summer home mathematics engagement relative to their peers in the control group.

The Gap Within the Gap: Using Longitudinal Data to Understand Income Differences in Educational Outcomes
Katherine Michelmore, Susan Dynarski
AERA Open, February 2017.
Researchers find that half of eigth graders in Michigan are eligible for a subsidized meal, but just 14 percent have been eligible for subsidized meal in every grade since kindergarten.

Kids Today: The Rise in Children's Academic Skills at kindergarten Entry
Daphna Bassok, Scott Latham
Educational Researcher, January 2017.
Researchers document how students entering Kindergarten in 2010 compare to those who entered in 1998 in terms of their teacher-reported math, literacy, and behavioral skills. 

Seasonal Dynamics of Academic Achievement Inequality by Scoioeconomic Status and Race/Ethnicity: Updating and Extending Past Research With New National Data
David M. Quinn, North Cooc, Joe McIntyre, Celia J. Gomez
Educational Researcher, November 2016.
Researchers analyzed seasonal trends in socioeconomic status (SES) and racial/ethnic test score gaps using nationally representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-2011 (ECLS-K:2011).

A Research Synthesis of the Associations Between Socioeconomic Background, Inequality, School Climate, and Academic Achievement
Ruth Berkowitz, Hadass Moore, Ron Avi Astor
Review of Educational Research, November 2016.
Researchers examined whether a positive climate can successfully disupt the associations between low socioeconomic states (SES) and poor academic achievement. 

Have Gender Gaps in Math Closed? Achievement, Teacher Perceptions, and Learning Behaviors Across Two ECLS-K Cohorts
Joseph R. Cimpian, Sarah T. Lubienski, Jennifer D. Timmer, Martha Makowski, Emily Miller
AERA Open, October 2016.
Researchers revealed gender gaps in mathematics achievement and teacher perceptions.

The Politics of Achievement Gaps: U.S. Public Opinion on Race-Based and Wealth-Based Differences in Test Scores
Jon Valant, Daniel A. Newark
Educational Researcher, August 2016.
Researchers explored the public's beliefs about test score gaps and its support for gap-closing initiatives. 

Patterns of Cross-National Variation in the Association Between Income and Academic Achievement
Anna K. Chmielewski, Sean F. Reardon
AERA Open, June 2016.
Researchers found considerable variation across countries in income achievement gaps. 

A Multigrade, Multiyear Statewide Examination of Reading Achievement: Examining Variability Between Districts, Schools, and Students
Jill L. Adelson, Emily R. Dickinson, Brittany C. Cunningham
Educational Researcher, May 2016.
Researchers examined the patterns of reading achievement using statewide data from all students (Grades 3-10) in multiple years to examine gaps based on student, school, and district characteristics. 

An Effort to Close Achievement Gaps at Scale Through Self-Affirmation
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2016.
Researchers randomly assigned seventh-grade students within 11 schools to receive writing exercises designed to promote values affirmation. Impacts on cumulative grade point average for the district’s racial/ethnic minority students who may be subject to stereotype threat are consistent with but smaller than those from past smaller studies.
Paul Hanselman

Effects of School Segregation and School Resources in a Changing Policy Context 
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2016.
The researcher found no evidence that an increased number of African American students negatively affects achievement growth.

Science Achievement Gaps Begin Very Early, Persist, and Are Largely Explained by Modifiable Factors
Paul L. Morgan, George Farkas, Marianne M. Hillemeier, Steve Maczuga
Educational Researcher, February 2016.
Researchers examined the age of onset, over-time dynamics, and mechanisms underlying science achievement gaps in U.S. elementary and middle schools. 

Science Achievement Gaps by Gender and Race/Ethnicity in elementary and Middle School: Trends and Predictors
David M. Quinn, North Cooc
Educational Researcher, August 2015.
Researchers find that the Black-White science test score gap remains stable over the years students, the Hispanic-White gap narrows, and the Asian-White Grade 3 gap closes by Grade 8.

Practice Issues in Estimating Achievement Gaps From Coarsened Data
Sean F. Reardon, Andrew D. Ho
Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, April 2015.
Researchers obtain practical estimates of the imprecision imparted by the coarsening process and of the bias imparted by measurment error.

The Effect of Community Linguistic Isolation on Language-Minority Student Achievement in High School
Timothy Arthur Drake
Educational Researcher, October 2014.
The researcher found that language minority achievement gaps are three to five tenths of a standard deviation in reading and math but that the effect is attenuated by increased levels of linguistic isolation.

More Than Sanctions: Closing Achievement Gaps Through California's Use of Intensive Technical Assistance
Katherine O. Strunk, Andrew McEachin
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, September 2014.
Researchers found that one intensive technical assistance (TA) intervention - California's District Assistance and Intervention Teams (DAITs) implemented in conjunction with a high-stakes accountability policy improves the math and English performance of traditionally underserved students. 

Do Summer Time-Use Gaps Vary by Socioeconomic Status?
Seth Gershenson
American Educational Research Journal, December 2013.
Researchers examined if differrential rates of summer learning loss contribute to the persistence of achievement gaps between students of different socioeconomic backgrounds.

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