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Report

Middle Childhood Success and Economic Mobility

Isabel V. Sawhill, J. Lawrence Aber, Kerry Searle Grannis, and Stephanie Owen

Executive Summary

This study uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999 (ECLS-K) to analyze competencies that children need to master by the end of elementary school, the extent to which they are doing so, what might be done to improve their performance, and how this might affect their ultimate ability to earn a living and their chances of being middle class by middle age. Both academic skills and socio-emotional skills contribute to core competency. We measure core competence at age eleven using five outcomes: math skills, reading skills, self-regulation, behavior problems, and physical health.

The paper concludes with a discussion of how middle childhood interventions such as a social emotional learning program or a whole school reform program like Success For All might improve short- and long-term outcomes for low-income children. Preliminary results from the Social Genome Model indicate that such programs might raise annual family income at age forty by four percent—approximately $2,400 for a family of four.

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