85032c.pdf - Economic Policy Institute Report | INEQUALITIES AT THE STARTING GATE Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills Gaps between 2010\u20132011

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Economic Policy Institute Report | June 17, 2015 INEQUALITIES AT THE STARTING GATE Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills Gaps between 2010–2011 Kindergarten Classmates B Y E M M A G A R C Í A ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE • 1333 H STREET, NW • SUITE 300, EAST TOWER • WASHINGTON, DC 20005 • 202.775.8810 •
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Table of contents Introduction and executive summary ............................................................................................................................................ 3 Literature review ............................................................................................................................................................................. 6 Existence and persistence of gaps .................................................................................................................................................. 6 Causes or mechanisms driving gaps .............................................................................................................................................. 7 Consequences of the gaps for later learning and development ...................................................................................................... 9 Why do we study noncognitive skills at the starting gate? ........................................................................................................... 10 Dataset and methodology ............................................................................................................................................................ 10 Variables—Outcomes ................................................................................................................................................................ 11 Variables—Child and family characteristics (education inputs) .................................................................................................. 12 Analytic sample .......................................................................................................................................................................... 13 A description of the kindergarten class of 2010–2011 ................................................................................................................ 14 Who is entering kindergarten? .................................................................................................................................................... 14 What did parents do to boost their children’s development before entering kindergarten? .......................................................... 14 Characteristics of the kindergartners by ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds ........................................................................ 15 Gaps at the starting gate: Results from the econometric approach ............................................................................................. 15 Gaps based on socioeconomic status ........................................................................................................................................... 16 Gaps by race/ethnicity ................................................................................................................................................................ 19 Other relationships of interest .................................................................................................................................................... 22 Recommendations ........................................................................................................................................................................ 25 Policy implications: Early childhood and education policy ......................................................................................................... 25 Policy implications: Economic and social policies ....................................................................................................................... 28 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................................................................... 29 About the author .......................................................................................................................................................................... 30 Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................................................................... 30 Appendix A ................................................................................................................................................................................... 31 Race and socioeconomic gaps: specifications .............................................................................................................................. 31 Appendix B ................................................................................................................................................................................... 32 Data issues: Definition of variables, missing data, use of sample weights, and distribution of dependent variables ...................... 32 Outcome variables ...................................................................................................................................................................... 32 Control variables (child and family characteristics or “education inputs”) .................................................................................. 34 Survey weights ........................................................................................................................................................................... 36 Distribution of outcomes ........................................................................................................................................................... 36 Endnotes ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 80 References ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 84 ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE | JUNE 17, 2015 PAGE 2
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Introduction and executive summary I nequalities in education outcomes such as test scores or degree attainment have been at the center of education policy debates for decades. Indeed, the first seminal national report on the state of U.S. education—the 1966 Coleman Report—examined some of these inequalities 50 years ago. Since then, researchers have examined per- formance gaps by income level and race or ethnicity in depth, as well as inequalities in educational attainment (degrees earned, etc.), employment opportunities, earnings, and even health status and overall well-being—all of which can be seen, partly, as long-lasting consequences of earlier education gaps (Altonji and Blank 1999; Cutler and Lleras-Muney 2010; Duncan and Murnane 2011a; Jencks and Phillips 1998; Magnuson and Waldfogel 2008; Morsy and Rothstein 2015; Rothstein 2004; Schultz 1980). This study seeks to broaden the debate by examining the education gaps that exist even before children enter formal schooling in kindergarten, and showing that the gaps extend to noncognitive skills, which are also critical for adult- hood outcomes (Heckman 2008; Heckman & Kautz 2012). Regarding the analysis of early education gaps, this paper is modeled on Lee and Burkam’s 2002 monograph Inequality at the Starting Gate: Social Background Differences in Achievement as Children Begin School
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