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?
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, with her longtime collaborator Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and other researchers, wrote a scholarly critique of the Sperry study for the Brookings Institution.
“I am worried,” Hirsh-Pasek tells NPR, that downplaying the word gap will have “dangerous” consequences. “Whenever you send out a message that ‘Hey, this doesn’t matter,’ the policymakers are listening and say, ‘Hey, that’s great, we can divert the money.’ “
Read the whole story: NPRMore of our Members in the Media >