Article: Let’s Stop Talking About The ’30 Million Word Gap’

[This has been gospel for years in the education community. Let’s make sure the scientific community has the resources to replicate studies. Let’s make sure that evidence is employed by educators to increase opportunities as opposed to limiting students right out of the gate.]

Let’s Stop Talking About The ’30 Million Word Gap’

Did you know that kids growing up in poverty hear 30 million fewer words by age 3? Chances are, if you’re the type of person who reads a newspaper or listens to NPR, you’ve heard that statistic before.

Since 1992, this finding has, with unusual power, shaped the way educators, parents and policymakers think about educating poor children.

But did you know that the number comes from just one study, begun almost 40 years ago, with just 42 families? That some people argue it contained a built-in racial bias? Or that others, including the authors of a new study that calls itself a “failed replication,” say it’s just wrong?

NPR talked to eight researchers to explore this controversy. All of them say they share the goal of helping poor kids achieve their highest potential in school.

But on the issue of how to define either the problem, or the solution, there are, well, very big gaps.

With all that in mind, here are six things to know about the 30 million word gap.


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(Image: Chelsea Beck/NPR)

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