Neighborhood disadvantage and children's cognitive skill trajectories
This study examined how neighborhood poverty is associated with children's trajectories of growth in math and reading skills in early elementary school, and how these associations vary by student characteristics, using multilevel growth models with nationally representative data from the 2011 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort. About one-quarter (25.6%) of children lived in communities of concentrated poverty. Findings suggest that achievement gaps by neighborhood disadvantage are large and present before Kindergarten, shrink during the Kindergarten year, but then widen the year following, and remain relatively consistent in the first years of elementary school. Growth in math skills appeared to vary more with neighborhood poverty than growth in reading skills. There was limited evidence that the relationship between neighborhood poverty and test score trajectories varied by child race, ethnicity, early education and Kindergarten experience, and parents’ immigration status, but growth differences across student characteristics were small. Policy and research implications are discussed.