Sociologists, however, are finding that parental investment in their children has diverged sharply over the last 40 years with growing gaps between the middle and the upper classes. In a May 2018 paper published in the American Sociological Review, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and Colorado State University found that the most affluent Americans are driving this difference, spending ever higher amounts of money on their children’s education and enrichment, from after-school lessons to summer camps.

 They also found that this increase in parental investment in children was directly related to growing income inequality. That is, in states where income inequality grew a lot, so did disparities in parental investments.  .  .  . “ (U.S. News & World Report, “The Growing Achievement Gap” by The Hechinger Report Contributor)

The achievement gap can be seen in other ways, as well:

“.  .  . the persistent disparity in academic performance between kids from different racial and socioeconomic groups has been a sore point, a source of debate and worry, and a national disgrace for the past 50 years.

 Though it’s often measured and cited using test scores, the achievement gap extends way beyond results from annual standardized tests. The gap shows up in the number of words a child knows on the first day of kindergarten, the number of kids being suspended and expelled, the number of students taking honors and AP courses, the number of students graduating from high school, the number of high school seniors admitted to college, the number of college students forced to take remedial classes, and the number of those college students who eventually earn a degree. But it doesn’t end there. The academic achievement gap predicts gaps in what researchers call “life outcomes” — long-term health, income, employment, and incarceration rates.  .  .  .” “  (, “Falling into the achievement gap” by Judy Molland)

We can readily see the results of the achievement gap in much of America’s workforce.  Job requirements have changed dramatically, thanks to the adoption of technology in the workplace, but the workers we need are lacking in many necessary skills.

The training requirements of today’s workplace are intensifying.  A National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) undertaken by the Department Of Education has reported that, “Growing numbers of individuals are expected to be able to attend to multiple features of information in lengthy and sometimes complex displays, to compare and contrast information, to integrate information from various parts of a text or document, to generate ideas and information based on what they read, and to apply arithmetic operations sequentially to solve a problem.  The results from this and other surveys, however, indicate that many adults do not demonstrate these levels of proficiency.”

Although it is difficult to get exact statistics, one very recent study reported that, “seven million Americans are illiterate, twenty-seven million are unable to read well enough to complete a job application and more than thirty million can’t read a simple sentence.”

An even more significant NALS study reports that, “forty-two million adult Americans can’t read and fifty million can recognize so few printed words they are limited to a 4th or 5th grade reading level.”

Obviously, it is no longer enough to simply stand on the assembly line and push one button over and over.  Today’s workplaces — and the global economy — have rendered much of this rote activity obsolete.  And, where repetitive task labor is still required, the corresponding remuneration allows only for a life bordering on subsistence.

In education, too, there is a real gap in learning and it grows with each passing year.  According to the NALS, adults who performed in the lowest two levels of literacy (on a scale of  1 – 5) — or approximately 50 million adults — were “far more likely to report receiving food stamps, to be living in poverty, and to be less likely to have voted in a recent election.  Adults in prison were far more likely than those in the population as a whole to perform in the lowest two literacy levels.”

The difference in salary between professionals and lower-level workers has also grown astoundingly.  In just 15 years, the gap between professional and clerical workers grew from 47 to 86 percent and between white-collar workers and skilled tradespeople it grew from 2 to 37 percent.  The gulf between the haves and the have-nots — with its terrifying social consequences — is growing by leaps and bounds.  If this learning gap is not addressed, new social upheaval will be the likely result as the gap between the necessary skills acquisition and income levels continues to grow.

Phrases like “the learning gap” and “the achievement gap” are more than just words.  They have real consequential meaning for families, individuals and for our nation.  We must start to shrink those gaps!

More on Wednesday  –  –  –

 — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning
December 17, 2018  (Mondays & Wednesdays)


 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)