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Susan Dynarski writes in the New York Times on June 2nd 2015 that “For the Poor, the Graduation Gap Is Even Wider Than the Enrollment Gap”.

Rich and poor students don’t merely enroll in college at different rates; they also complete it at different rates. In 2002, researchers with the National Center for Education Statistics started tracking a cohort of 15,000 high school sophomores.”

“The project, called the Education Longitudinal Study, recorded information about the students’ academic achievement, college entry, work history and college graduation. The study divided students into quartiles, depending on their parents’ education, income and occupation. Thirteen years later, we see the results.”

“Among the participants from the most disadvantaged families, just 14 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree. Among those from the most advantaged families, 60 percent had earned a bachelor’s.”

“Seeing these numbers, some readers may wonder whether the low-income children weren’t completing college because they were not able. As part of the study, high school students completed a battery of tests in math and reading. And the results show that the hypothesis is wrong: educational achievement does not explain the gap in bachelor’s degree attainment.”


“Academic skills in high school, at least as measured by a standardized math test, explain only a small part of the socioeconomic gap in educational attainment.”

“A poor teenager with top scores and a rich teenager with mediocre scores are equally likely to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. In both groups, 41 percent receive a degree by their late 20s.”

“And even among the affluent students with the lowest scores, 21 percent managed to receive a bachelor’s degree, compared with just 5 percent of the poorest students. Put bluntly, class trumps ability when it comes to college graduation.”

Let’s examine what this means for education policy and so-called reform. It tells us that what has been imposed on schools all across the nation via No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top Common Core, and excessive standardized testing was bogus. (A milder B-S word than I would like to have used.)

It tells us that those if us who have been screaming, “It’s the economics stupid” have been right all along. Until we find a way to narrow the economics gap, the real achievement gap will not be reduced. We can easily see how the scientific evidence once again shows how a$$Irma$ive ac$ion really works.