“This is the Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin report — it’s the empirical evidence of that,” he added, referencing the college admissions bribery scandal, which has busted the notion that premier universities were admitting all students on the basis of merit alone.
Huffman pleaded guilty this month to fraud conspiracy. Loughlin and her husband pleaded not guilty.
Study followed kindergartners from 1989
The new study is unusual for its breadth and depth. Four researchers at Georgetown combined national data sets to follow the school and career trajectories of a representative sample of students in public and private schools.
They started with a group of kindergartners in the 1989-90 school year and tracked students through high school, college and into the labor market.
The researchers studied students’ test scores, college enrollment and attainment, and the prestige of their occupation, if they secured one.
The findings challenged the notion that America’s K-12 education system is a great equalizer. For example, nearly 40% of low-income kindergartners still had a low socioeconomic status by adulthood.
Researchers also found the achievement gap was already well established in kindergarten. Starting out, 74% of the wealthiest kindergarten students scored in the top half of the scale in math, compared to 23% of the poorest kindergartners.
As the students grew up, both groups — higher income and low income — wobbled academically, but wealthier students were more likely to rebound.
“When the high-scoring poor kids inevitably stumbled, their scores were more likely to decline and then stay low over time,” the study said.
High school math scores signal future success
Carnavale said research has shown that higher-income students have built-in family and economic supports that help them to recover. For example, affluent families spend about five times as much on enrichment activities for their children compared to low-income families.
Some good news: Across all racial and ethnic groups, students from disadvantaged families with top-half math scores in high school were more likely to obtain a good entry-level job as an adult.
“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”