The Warning (Children of Two Futures Book 5)


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We estimate the future costs of disconnection, both for young people who experience it and to the communities in which they live. The report makes the case that investing in early-career workers can provide positive returns, laying out the following agenda for action: Listen and respond to the views and voices of youth themselves. Support at-risk, first-time workers with training and policies that help them stay employed. Work together across fractured systems. First, we examine the changes in the gaps Tables 3 and 4, Models 3 and 4 and the overall reduction in the gaps that results from controlling for children and their family characteristics, early literacy practices, and parental expectations of educational achievement Table 5.

Second, we assess the influence of select early educational practices on performance and how that influence has changed over time by looking at the associations between these inputs and performance Table 6. Models 3 and 4 in Tables 3 and 4 use the samples that result from removing observations without full information for the controls of interest.

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Model 3 also includes the interactions between the early education variables with time. Including covariates changes the estimates of SES-based skills gaps in various ways. First, the gaps between the top- and bottom-SES quintiles shrink, showing that SES-based gaps are partially explained by the variation in the controls which is not visible in the tables.

In reading, the change in the gap between and diminishes and becomes statistically insignificant in the last model the relative gap increases by 0. Gaps between high- and low-SES children in cognitive and noncognitive skills after adjustments are made are shown in Figure B. As mentioned above, the fact that the skills gaps decrease after controls are taken into consideration affirms that SES-based gaps are due in part to variation in the controls among high- versus low-SES children. This trend can be seen in Table 5, which, as noted above, shows the overall reduction in gaps that results from controlling for child and family characteristics, early literacy practices, and parental expectations of educational achievement.

With respect to cognitive skills, the gaps shrink by 46 percent and 53 percent, respectively, after the inclusion of the covariates.

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About half of the gaps are thus due to other factors that are associated both with SES status and with the outcomes themselves. The reduction in the gaps for noncognitive skills varies from 28 percent approaches to learning as reported by teachers to 74 percent approaches to learning as reported by parents.

For self-control as reported by teachers, the reduction is 51 percent versus 35 percent when reported by parents. While the gaps hold after the inclusion of controls across outcomes, gaps in are less sensitive to the inclusion of the covariates than they were in This trend can also be seen in Table 5. In any event, the resistance of gaps to these controls should worry researchers and policymakers.

The waning influence of these controls makes it harder to understand what drives SES gaps. It also suggests that the gaps may be growing more intractable or, at least are less easily narrowed via the enactment of known policy interventions. For , the estimated coefficients are 0. However, while center-based pre-K continues to reduce self-control as reported by teachers in , the effect is less negative in the 0.

We find no independent effect of center-based prekindergarten schooling i. The number of books children have at home likewise supports their skills at the beginning of kindergarten. Indeed, this factor is positively associated with all outcomes but self-control reported by parents. The coefficients are very small, of about 0. The associations with cognitive skills, especially with reading, are strong and statistically significant—0. For noncognitive skills, the relationships are strong for those assessed by parents, though they shrink by about half over time: self-control is 0.

On the other hand, the index that measures other enrichment activities that parents do with their children a composite of how frequently parents and children play games, do sports, build things, work on puzzles, do arts and crafts, and do chores shows significant correlations with all of the skills, but they may be either positively correlated or negatively correlated, depending on the skill.

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For cognitive skills, the associations are statistically significant and negative, though stronger and somewhat more meaningful or more intense with reading achievement But the fact that both the frequency with which parents engage in most of these activities and the importance of this index for parent-assessed skills increased noticeably from to by 0. It also indicates that parents are increasingly acting on this knowledge and that this involvement will continue to grow, albeit potentially with decreasing marginal returns to time and resources invested.

In addition, most of these associations—particularly the cognitive gradients—grow in We thus conduct analyses using several of the main proxies employed to measure socioeconomic status.


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The purpose of these analyses is twofold. The first purpose is to test the sensitivity of the estimated relative gaps, and of trends in them, to changes in the measurement of this key predictor of education performance. In other words, if all the indicators are reliable proxies of SES, gaps and trends obtained using the various metrics should be similar. The second purpose is to increase the comparability of the results of studies addressing trends in education inequalities that use various metrics of social class.

This is an important issue; in addition to helping reconcile diverse results found in the literature, these analyses may reveal why patterns differ, and have significant policy implications. Unlike the SES composite measure, two of these measures offer the advantage of being directly comparable over time. As a limitation, and mainly associated with the information that is available in the raw data, none of these categories can be transformed into a percentile-variable without major transformations.

The adjustments to ensure comparability over time are explained in Appendix A. See Reardon and Portilla for an analysis with a transformation of the income variable that offers a proper percentile comparison, based on the methodology developed by Reardon Still, they are variables associated with social class and can be ordered in groups or categories that identify high- and low-social-class statuses. Thus, with the necessary caution when interpreting and using the findings, we offer this comparison of results as a sensitivity analysis.

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We focus on the findings for the baseline relative gaps in and first Figures C—E. The overall patterns found in the results suggest that all social-class gaps are statistically significant and sizable.


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  6. However, the exact sizes of the gaps vary depending on the social-class indicator used and the outcome being assessed. In addition to these general findings, we note some more detailed ones.

    For example, the relative gap is 1. All in all, results seem internally consistent as well as generally consistent with prior results on this topic Reardon and Portilla Changes in the performance gaps in cognitive skills between and by our composite SES measure and books are similar: an increase in the reading gap between children in the top and bottom quintiles of about a tenth of a standard deviation 0. Meanwhile, income-based gaps for the two cognitive skills—reading and math—decreased by No significant changes occurred for the remaining noncognitive skills.

    In sum, this sensitivity analysis demonstrates that all of the indicators are reliable proxies of SES for the estimation of early achievement gaps, though absolute gaps may vary slightly depending on the indicator used. However, the proxies are not equally reliable when we assess trends in the gaps by SES or their drivers. As such, aside from differences in the definitions and procedures used to construct each SES proxy, the proxies should not be treated as fully equivalent.

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    The decomposition conducted here helps clarify the different weights that various components of SES may have in driving changes in gaps by social class. For example, variation in income across groups over time is associated with decreased performance gaps in the cognitive skills between and , and variation in educational attainment quintiles or categories over time is associated with decreased performance gaps across cohorts in most noncognitive skills.

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    On the other hand, findings that indicate that income inequality is the larger culprit would point to the need for policies that reduce such inequalities. Future research should consider and look more closely into these questions. The multiple factors and relationships examined in this section can now be examined from a policy perspective. This section of the report draws on a set of case studies published by the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education BBA , a national campaign that advances evidence-based strategies to mitigate the impacts of poverty-related disadvantages on teaching and learning.

    We explore the premise that school districts that take a whole-child approach to education and a whole-community approach to delivering it are likely to enjoy larger gains in academic achievement and to narrow their race- and income-based achievement gaps. Large and growing disparities in the economic well-being of children in America and extensive evidence linking those disparities to widely diverging educational outcomes have prompted action among a growing number of communities and school districts.

    Heeding the evidence that out-of-school factors play even larger roles than school-based factors in school performance, these districts are seeking ways to mitigate the poverty-related impediments to effective teaching and learning. These districts have benefited from a substantial body of research on strategies with promise to address core challenges that students and schools face—strategies that have been shown to shrink achievement gaps by narrowing major disparities in opportunity Carter and Welner The first, and perhaps best-documented, of these strategies is high-quality early child care and education, especially when it engages parents early and in meaningful ways.

    High-quality early childhood education programs not only narrow achievement gaps at kindergarten entry but also deliver long-term benefits to children, their families, and society as a whole Chaudry et al. While the impact of such comprehensive approaches has not been studied as extensively as the individual components, considerable theoretical and emerging empirical research point to the strong potential of such strategies to boost achievement and narrow gaps Child Trends ; Oakes, Maier, and Daniel ; Weiss i.

    This section of the report seeks to add to that knowledge base by sharing qualitative information on how such comprehensive approaches have emerged and grown, what they look like when they are successfully implemented, and what types of outcomes and benefits result and how outcomes vary across diverse communities. Each of the districts studied has distinct circumstances, and thus distinct reasons for coming to the conclusion, as a community, that it needed to take a comprehensive approach to education. At the same time, demographic trends that are affecting virtually every state—and many, if not most, school districts across the country—have played major roles in that decision in every case.

    Across the country, in Vancouver, Washington, the share of children eligible for subsidized school meals rose from 39 percent to over 50 percent in less than a decade, such that, by , in some central-city schools, more than four in five students qualified for subsidized school meals in Weiss b.

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