The Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard UniversityHome
Join Our Email List Search the Research Database Facts on the Gap Our Project List

The Facts on the Gap

  • The nation's demographics are rapidly changing.
  • Internationally, the United States already ranks below several nations it competes with in the global economy.
  • Compared to whites, significant gaps for African-American and Hispanic students are evident in virtually every measure of achievement: NAEP math and reading test scores, high school completion rates, college enrollment and college completion rates. In addition, there is wide variability across states in educational investment and outcomes.
  • There are virtually no racial or social class differences in mental ability among infants before their first birthday and a few social class indicators are able to explain the small differences that do exist.



View Videos on Test Score Gaps>>

The Facts on the Gap

Tabulations from the 2010 U.S. Census project that the nation will become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043. Non-Hispanic whites will remain the largest single group, but no group will be majority. The chart illustrates this trend with a snapshot of the age distribution in 2009 for non-Hispanic whites. Over 80 percent of adults ages 80 and over were white in 2009; about half of those ages 5 and below were white. Indeed, the majority of babies born in the U.S. are now children of color.

Percentage Non-Hispanic White in the United States Age Distribution in 2009

Scores at Age 9 Months

State Test Scores

National Test Scores

International Test Scores

High School Completion Rates

College Enrollment

College Completion

Employment and Earnings