Thomas J. Espenshade

Achievement Gap


The achievement gap is "the most pressing domestic issue facing the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century" (Espenshade and Radford, 2009).

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Latest developments

Espenshade is working with graduate students from Sociology and the Office of Population Research to develop a research proposal for a “video ethnography.”  The aim is to persuade roughly a dozen families—stratified by race and by social class—in the Princeton-Trenton area to have “baby cams” installed in their homes.  Observational video and audio data on family dynamics and, in particular, on parent-child interactions are likely to provide more reliable information on the early emergence of learning gaps than data gathered by more conventional survey methods.  Interest will center on pre-school children’s diet and nutrition, the amount of talking and reading that parents do with their children, forms of structure and discipline, sleep patterns, TV watching, and the like.


Department of Sociology      Office of Population Research      Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs