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Survey finds poverty widens academic gap at around 4th grade

  • December 30, 2017
  • , Mainichi , p. 23
  • JMH Translation

Children from financially strapped households living on welfare tend to have lower average deviation scores in Japanese and mathematics skills compared to those who are not. The academic gap starts to widen especially around fourth grade in elementary school, according to a summary of research results analyzed by the Nippon Foundation based on surveys conducted by Minoh City, Osaka Prefecture.


The Nippon Foundation points out, “Application of basic academic skills becomes necessary around fourth grade in elementary school. Children from poor families have difficulty acquiring study and other desirable daily habits from an early age, which causes the academic gap to widen,” calling for support for early elementary school children.


With the cooperation of Minoh City, the Nippon Foundation analyzed the results of surveys of the city’s elementary and junior high school students on academic skills and lifestyles conducted by the municipal government for three years from fiscal 2014. The organization compared households that receive welfare or school expense subsidies and those that do not and determined the average deviation score for each subject for each grade.


For Japanese achievement, the average deviation score for second grade students from households on welfare stood at 49.6 while that of those from non-welfare households was 50.1, a difference of just 0.5 points. But the difference grew to 1.9 points for third grade students and even to 5.5 points for fourth graders. The difference increased to more than four points for fifth grade students and older and reached 5.8 points for eighth grade students. The same tendency was observed in arithmetic and mathematics.


But academically advanced students, even those from poor families, were found to have desirable lifestyles and study habits.

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