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Math & Science Achievement Gaps for Minority Students

Presenter: David Grissmer
This session will introduce participants to research involving: the development of mathematics and science skills; the evolution of achievement gaps from 9 months through 8th grade; the relationship between later math and science skills and earlier math and reading skills; and measures of early comprehension, motor, and socio-emotional skills and executive function, as well as earlier environmental characteristics. Data comes from a cohort of 21,000 entering kindergarten students in 1998-99 followed through eighth grade, and a cohort of about 11,000 children born in 2001 and followed through kindergarten entrance to study.


About the Presenter:
David Grissmer, Research Professor, Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, University of Virginia
David Grissmer is currently a research professor at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. Previously, he was a senior management scientist at RAND Corporation for twenty-seven years, where his focus was using quantitative techniques from statistics, econometrics, operations research and actuarial science to analyze public policy problems. He currently has research grants from the NSF, NICHD and IES. His current research focuses on the developmental origins and evolution of achievement score gaps using empirical evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey of Kindergarteners and a Birth Cohort (ECLS-K and ECLS-B) to test hypotheses about early developmental and academic predictors of much later achievement at 8th grade. The results from this analysis suggesting that early fine motor skills is as strong a predictor as executive function measures for later math led to an NICHD-funded experimental intervention testing whether improvements in fine motor skills would improve developmental and academic measures, including executive function and math. Another finding using the ECLS-K and ECLS-B suggests that an early general knowledge measure is the strongest predictor of 8th grade reading and science. This finding partly led to an IES-funded lottery-based RCT evaluating the Core Knowledge curriculum, which is based on the premise that early general knowledge is critical for later achievement. The work has also involved linking evidence from neuroscience that might suggest the causal mechanisms involved in the links between early developmental and academic measures and later cognitive performance. Grissmer holds a PhD in Physics from Purdue University.