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ERIC Number: ED562790
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 8
Kindergarten Black-White Test Score Gaps: Replicating and Updating Previous Findings with New National Data
Quinn, David
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
A substantial body of evidence has shown large academic test score gaps between black and white students in early childhood. These gaps remain, and probably grow, as students progress through school. Many researchers have sought to explain these persistent test score gaps, and particularly, to understand the role of students' socio-economic status (SES) in the formation of these gaps. Using data from the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999, Fryer and Levitt (2004), found large math and reading gaps at school entry, but a small number of SES-related variables explained all of the black-white reading gap and most of the math gap (with a standardized gap of 0.10 remaining). The recent release of data from the National Center for Education Statistics' (NCES) ECLS-K: 2011 provides an opportunity to test whether Fryer and Levitt's results replicate in a new nationally representative sample over a decade after the first ECLS-K. Additionally, unlike the ECLS-K: 1999, the ECLS-K: 2011 administered executive functioning assessments. Data from the ECLS-K: 2011 was used to update the picture of black-white test score gaps and gap trends over kindergarten, and to determine whether patterns found in the earlier ECLS-K: 1999 replicate. Questions guiding this project include: (1) Do measures of socioeconomic status explain black-white math and reading test score gaps in the fall and spring of kindergarten?; and (2) Do measures of executive functioning show the same patterns of results as measures of math and reading skills? Three separate assessments provided data: two subject area assessments (math and reading), and one executive functioning assessment testing working memory. These assessments were administered one-on-one by trained child assessors in the fall of kindergarten, and in the spring. The results for working memory show a somewhat different pattern than for math and reading, however, the SES variables explain somewhat less of the black-white gap, and the gap does not change substantially over the school year. The differing pattern of results for math and reading compared to executive functioning is consistent with the hypothesis that gap estimates are sensitive to the measure used, and are affected by whether the material on the assessments is learned mostly inside or outside school. The math and reading gaps, which represent knowledge learned in school, grow from fall to spring, while the unadjusted executive functioning gap, which does not measure curricular objectives, does not grow from fall to spring. Tables are appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Kindergarten; Primary Education; Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey; Woodcock Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability