Inequality and the Black-White Test Score Gap

Other External Scholars:
Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University
Katherine Magnuson, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Project Date:
Jan 2006
Award Amount:
Project Programs:
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality

In the 1960s and 1970s, African-American school children made steady progress in closing the gap with their white peers in reading and math test scores. These gains were attributed to a number of favorable factors including school reforms, as well as new civil rights and anti-poverty legislation. In the mid-1980s however, black educational gains stalled before picking up again the late 1990s. What explains this break in achievement? With support from the Foundation, Jane Waldfogel and Katherine Magnuson will organize a conference at the Foundation that will explore this question. They have recruited a group of economists and sociologists who will examine the way that different factors believed to affect test scores (e.g. family involvement with children or teacher quality) have changed over time, and how those changes impacted the black-white test score gap. Waldfogel and Magnuson will compile the papers from the conference and organize them for publishing as an edited volume.


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