The Hispanic-White Achievement Gaps in Early School Years: Evidence from the ECLS-K
Hongyun Han, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Alberto Palloni, University of Wisconsin at Madison
This paper investigates the ethnic academic achievement gaps and associated growth patterns from kindergarten to fifth grade between immigrant children of Mexican origin and native White, using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten data. We find that the Hispanic-white achievement gaps have been narrowed, which contrasts with the widening black-white achievement gaps. In particular, the 2nd generation Mexican children are able to catch up in reading and math, mostly due to their faster growth during first grade. Our analysis shows that the persisting achievement gaps in the fifth grade between immigrant children of Mexican origin may be largely due to the initial lags at kindergarten. Our findings highlight the pivotal importance of early intervention to boost immigrant children’s assimilation process.