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This article examines the development of social and ethnic disparities in academic achievement in elementary schooling. It investigated whether reading and mathematics development in 136 mixed-ability classes shows path-dependent processes of cumulative advantage (Matthew effects) from Grades 4 to 6 (Grade 4 mean age = 10.62, SD = 0.57) resulting in growing inequality. Status-dependent processes of cumulative advantage, their interaction with path-dependent processes, and consequences for the degree of social and ethnic inequality are examined. Two complementary methods for analyzing multilevel data are used: growth curve and quasi-simplex models. No evidence for a Matthew effect was found in either domain. A compensation effect emerged for reading, to the benefit of ethnic minorities. A fan-spread effect was found for mathematics, partly attributable to status-dependent processes of cumulative advantage.