30 While the gaps shrink when controls are included, all of the adjusted differences remain statistically and educationally significant. Fully adjusted gradients show that moving each subsequent quintile up in the SES distribution improves performance by about 0.2 standard deviations (with a minimum of 0.15 sd and a maximum of 0.23 sd), in both math and reading, and the gaps between the lowest and highest SES groups still surpass three-fourths of a standard deviation in the two cognitive skills. 31 ECONOMIC POLICY INSTITUTE | JUNE 17, 2015 PAGE 16
One interesting finding is that, when all controls are included, the coefficients associated with math and reading perfor- mance of the two lowest SES quintiles narrow more, proportionately, than do the coefficients associated with the two highest SES quintiles. In other words, adding controls such as family composition and early education practices has a bigger influence on gaps at the low-SES versus the high-SES end of the distribution. This may indicate that education supports that children receive outside their homes and/or parenting enrichment activities are particularly beneficial for low- to middle-income children, since higher-income parents likely provide such supports from their own resources. This suggests that increasing low-income children’s access to educational activities that can complement the attention and stimulation received within their homes could substantially reduce their relative disadvantage in reading and math skills. While SES-based gaps for a set of executive function indicators—cognitive flexibility and working memory—are also substantial, a closer look offers some interesting findings that contrast with the trends for math and reading. Controlling for race/ethnicity (Model 2S) significantly decreases the gaps, whereas the decrease was smaller in math and reading. There is also a small additional shrinking effect from adding child and family characteristics, pre-K schooling, and the various parenting educational activities (Model 3S), but this additional decrease is much smaller than it was for reading and math. The adjusted advantages for children across the socioeconomic distribution compared with children in the low-SES quintile in the cognitive flexibility skill are between 0.10 and 0.25 standard deviations. A similar gradient, but steeper, is also observed for the working memory skill (adjusted gaps relative to children in the low SES quintile are between 0.10 and 0.51 standard deviations). Socioeconomic-based gaps in noncognitive skills Estimates of SES-based gaps in noncognitive skills, as reported by parents and teachers, reveal two important trends. First, both parent- and teacher-based assessments reveal gaps or socioeconomic gradients. Related to this main finding, as we will see, the steepness of the gradients is not uniform, and depends both on the skills and on whether parents or teachers are providing the assessments. In terms of sensitivity to the controls, gaps do not always shrink when race/ ethnicity controls are added (comparing unadjusted with adjusted-by-race gaps). Second, the size of the gaps in com-
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