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Knowledge and skills of young children

Question:
Do you have information on the knowledge and skills of young children?

Response:

Differences among demographic groups in the acquisition of cognitive skills have been demonstrated at relatively early ages in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey's Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) study as well as its Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K) studies.

In 2003–04, about 64 percent of 2-year-olds demonstrated proficiency in expressive vocabulary, which measured toddlers’ ability to communicate using gestures, words, and sentences. The percentage of 2-year-olds demonstrating expressive vocabulary was higher for females (69 percent) than for males (59 percent). Also, a higher percentage of White (71 percent) and Asian (62 percent) 2-year-olds demonstrated expressive vocabulary than of Black, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native 2-year-olds (56, 54, and 50 percent, respectively). The percentage of 2-year-olds from families with high socioeconomic status (SES) who demonstrated expressive vocabulary (75 percent) was higher than the percentage of children from low-SES families who did so (52 percent).

Patterns of differences were also observed by race/ethnicity and SES for children at about 4 years of age (48 to 57 months old). In 2005–06, average early reading scores were higher for White (27) and Asian (31) 48- to 57-month-old children than for Black (23), Hispanic (21), and American Indian/Alaska Native (20) children. High-SES children (33) had higher early reading scores than low-SES children (19) at this age. These same patterns were observed among 48- to 57-month-old children with respect to average mathematics scores. White (32) and Asian (35) 48- to 57-month-old children had higher mathematics scores than Black (27), Hispanic (26), and American Indian/Alaska Native (23) children. High-SES children (36) had higher average mathematics scores than low-SES children (24) at this age.

Children who enrolled in kindergarten for the first time in 2010–11 showed similar patterns of score differences by race/ethnicity and SES. In fall 2010, average mathematics scores were higher for first-time kindergartners from high-SES families (43) than for those from low-SES families (28). White (38) and Asian (39) first-time kindergartners had higher mathematics scores than their Black (32), Hispanic (31), and American Indian/Alaska Native (33) peers. Similarly, average early reading scores in fall 2010 were higher for White (55) and Asian (57) first-time kindergartners than for their Black (52), Hispanic (49), and American Indian/Alaska Native (50) peers. High-SES children (60) had higher early reading scores than low-SES children (47). Most of these same patterns were observed among these children during 4th grade in spring 2014. White (114) and Asian (117) 4th-graders had higher mathematics scores than their Black (100) and Hispanic (106) peers. Asian 4th-graders had higher mathematics scores than American Indian/Alaska Native (111) 4th-graders; however, there was no measurable difference between the mathematics scores for White and American Indian/Alaska Native students. Mathematics scores were higher for 4th-graders from high-SES families (118) than for those from low-SES families (102). Early reading scores were also higher for White (126) and Asian (127) 4th-graders than for their Black (118), Hispanic (120), and American Indian/Alaska Native (121) peers, and 4th-graders from high-SES families (130) had higher early reading scores than those from low-SES families (116).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics, 2017 (NCES 2018-070), Chapter 2.

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