By Brooke Donald
It's long been known that the better off your family is, the better you tend to do in school.
Yet despite this knowledge – and programs to help level the playing field – the classroom achievement gap between rich and poor students has grown steadily over the past half-century, according to research by Sean Reardon, professor of education at Stanford.
"We had expected the relationship between family income and children's test scores to be pretty stable over time. It's a well-known fact and common sense, really, that the two are related," Reardon said. "But the fact that the gap has grown substantially, especially in the last 25 years, was quite surprising, striking and troubling."
Reardon's study examined standardized test scores from 12 data sets beginning in 1960 and ending in 2007.
He compared children from families in the 90th percentile of income to children from families in the 10th percentile. The study was conducted in 2008, when families in the top bracket earned about $160,000 and families in the lower earned about $17,500.
Reardon found that the gap in test scores between the higher income and low-income children has grown by about 40 percent and is now nearly twice as large as the black-white achievement gap.
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