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The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools

Abstract

McKinsey's report examines the dimensions and economic impact of the education
achievement gap. While much controversy exists on the causes of the gap and on what the nation should do to address it, the full range of the achievement gap's character and consequences has been poorly understood.

This report examines the dimensions of four distinct gaps in education: (1) between the United States and other nations, (2) between black and Latino students and white students, (3) between students of different income levels, and (4) between similar students schooled in different systems or regions.

The report finds that the underutilization of human potential as reflected in the achievement gap is extremely costly. Existing gaps impose the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession--one substantially larger than the deep recession the country is currently experiencing. For individuals, avoidable shortfalls in academic achievement impose heavy and often tragic consequences via lower earnings, poor health, and higher rates of incarceration."

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