What does available evidence tell us about the relationship between social class and schools in The US of A?


Sean Reardon of Stanford showed a widening class gap in both math and reading test scores. “The achievement gap between children from high and low income families is roughly 30-40 percent larger among students born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier.”


He also found that schools themselves ARE NOT THE CULPRITS! The opportunity gap is already large by the time they enter kindergarten and does not grow appreciably through school. James Heckman expands that by saying that the gaps in cognitive achievement are most predicted by the level of maternal educationas early at the age of six, and that schooling… as unequal as it is in the US… plays only a minor role in alleviating or crating test score gaps.


What’s the real culprit? Residential sorting! Americans are increasing living in separate neighborhoods, unintegrated by class, income, or race, especially over the past 30- 40 years. Regardless of their own family background, kids do better where the other kids come from affluent, educated homes. This is universal, not just in the US.