Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The New Census Report Underscores the Need to Focus on the Achievement Gap

The 2010 Census revealed that, for the first time in history, more than half the children under the age of 2 in the United States are racial or ethnic minorities. Along with demonstrating that there is an increasingly older, majority white population, these data express a significant demographic shift as racial and ethnic minorities will be in the majority by mid-century. This change in demographics, which will significantly impact policies and practices, underscores the importance of a national discourse about race equity. As a part of that discourse, policymakers should consider how this shift pertains to early childhood development and school readiness, as statistics reveal that 61% of Black 2 year-olds were in low-quality home-based care, compared to 20% of their white counterparts. Addressing early childhood readiness for minority children is critical. Research has proven that this educational stage is crucial for building the foundation for a stable and successful life but currently serves as the beginning of the academic achievement gap.

The causes of the academic achievement gap are varied;including the skewed per-pupil spending on children in different racial groups. The Center for American Progress suggests that state education funding gaps remain a substantial barrier to lessening the disparity in per-pupil spending among different racial groups. For example, in New York and Illinois, per-pupil expenditures for Black and Hispanic students are roughly 90 percent of those for white students. In order to begin addressing the academic achievement gap, it is important to address these inconsistencies to ensure equality, stability and positive development. The recent ETS’s Addressing the Achievement Gap Symposium, presented critical data on the longitudinal effects of racial disparities and recommendations for bridging such gaps through education.

This Census report reinforces the importance of addressing racial inequities in education as well as the other systems and institutions that impact our nation’s children.

For more information on the ETS Symposium, the Alliance for Race Equity, and improving early childhood education, visit

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