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Math Achievement Gaps Set In Early for Latino Children

Guest Blog By Kate Stoltzfus

Achievement gaps in math between Latino students and their white counterparts set in before kindergarten, says a new report by Child Trends' Hispanic Institute.

The study analyzed data from a longitudinal study by the National Center for Education Statistics that tracked nearly 10,400 students' progress from kindergarten through 5th grade starting in 2010, among other sources. At the beginning of kindergarten, Latino students' math skills already trail behind those of white students by the equivalent of three months of learning. This early gap sets students up to remain behind in math in the spring of their kindergarten year—which can affect future learning and success.

Latino children were more than twice as likely as white children to live in poverty, and those who began school with lower math skills also were less likely to attend center-based child care. But those students who attended full-day kindergarten showed more progress in math than those who only attended for a half day.

The report calls for researchers to:

  • Develop better kindergarten and preschool assessments of academic and social-emotional development for Latino children and other "nondominant cultural backgrounds."
  • Study the effects of bias on teachers perceptions of and expectations for their young Latino students.

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