Social Class, School and Non-School Environments, and Black/White Inequalitites in Children's Learning
How might schools exacerbate black/white disparities in learning while simultaneously slowing the growth of social class gaps?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
American Sociological Review
Vol. 74, No. 5, pp. 683-708
- Several school and non-school disadvantages accompany lower social class positions.
- Black students experience many of these disadvantages more often than do White students, even net of class.
- Non-school factors account for all of the class disparities in school-year learning but fail to fully explain why Black students lose ground to White students.
- Classroom and school factors alone explain 43 percent of the initial Black/White gap in both reading and math gains.
- Non-school factors primarily fuel class inequality in gains, while school factors primarily fuel black/white inequalities in gains.
- School appears to exacerbate Black/White disparities in learning even as they slow the growth of social class gaps (compared with what occurs over the summer).
- Because school factors appear to generate the Black/White gap more so than non-school influences, increased exposure to school speeds up the pace at which black children fall behind their white peers.
- Racial segregation seems to be the leading culprit that explains what is it about schools that widens the Black/White gap.
- When it comes to both housing and schools, race trumps class as the central axis upon which Blacks and Whites in the US are segregated.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Achievement Gap, Composition, SES, Segregation
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- Uses Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K).
- Study gives separate results for Whites, Blacks and All.
- DV: Gain in skills in student's reading and math skills in the fall (IRT scale scores).
- IV: Race (Black vs. White), working class (vs. middle/upper class), poor (vs. middle/upper class), family owns home, months of financial problems before kindergarten Non-school Factors (student had low birth, disability, food is insecure, student's health, absences from school, lives with both biological parents, lives with single parent, other parents, number of siblings, changed school during school year, parental/relative/Head Start care, center daycare, nursery/preschool care, prekindergarten care, student's approaches to learning, number of extracurricular activities, number of books in the home, frequency student reads books outside of school, intergenerational closure, parental involvement at home, parental involvement at school). School Factors (student not in reading group, lowest reading group, middle reading group, highest reading group, teacher has MA or higher degree, teacher is certified, teacher's experience, disorder in classroom, adequacy of classroom resources, school's physical conditions, overcrowding problems in school, white segregated school, integrated school, minority segregated school, low poverty school, medium poverty school, high poverty school, disadvantaged neighborhood surrounding school, suburban school, mid-size or large city school, small town or rural school, private school.
- Used two-level hierarchical linear models and also OLS regression models.