This report quantifies the economic benefits of closing one of the most harmful racial and ethnic gaps: the educational achievement gap that exists between black and Hispanic children and native-born white children. Gaps in academic achievement are a function of a host of factors, such as income and wealth inequality, access to child care and preschool programs, nutrition, physical and emotional health, environmental factors, community and family structures,
differences in the quality of instruction and school, and educational attainment. This suggests there are a wide range of public policies that could help narrow educational achievement gaps; this report demonstrates that there are enormous payoffs to closing the gaps through public policies. It also outlines effective public policy strategies to achieve this goal, though their details are left to future research. After briefly summarizing the analysis's findings, this report places the educational achievement gaps in context to help explain their significance and the reasons they exist. In particular, the report reviews data on growing inequality, demographic changes, and intensifying global economic competition. This clarifies the need to address educational achievement gaps and helps explain why the benefits of closing gaps are great. The report then describes factors that cause educational achievement gaps and offers public policies that could help close them. The subsequent sections of the report discuss the literature on the importance of academic achievement to economic growth, the methodology used in the analysis, and its detailed findings.