Black and white kindergarteners from similar socioeconomic backgrounds start kindergarten with virtually equal reading and math skills, say two researchers writing in Education Next. But, by end of first grade, the black students have fallen behind. Hispanic kindergarteners start out behind but catch up to whites of similar backgrounds. Roland G. Fryer Jr. and Steven D. Levitt found smaller achievement gaps for children born in the early 1990s compared to earlier cohorts, perhaps indicating “the current cohort of blacks has made real gains relative to whites.”
Once students enter school, however, the gap between white and black children grows, even after controlling for observable influences. We speculate that blacks are losing ground relative to whites because they attend lower-quality schools that are less well maintained and managed as indicated by signs of social discord.
Also read about attracting better teachers and how detracking has gone off track: Most high schools still offer different classes for high-performing and low-performing students, though few are divided into college, general and vocational tracks. Detracking is most common in high-minority, high-poverty schools.