White Paper

Early Language Gaps: Sources and Solutions

Bridging the 30 Million Word Gap, White House Convening, 2013 | September 26, 2013
Meredith L. Rowe, Ed.D; Dana Suskind, M.D.; Erika Hoff, Ph.D.

A White Paper prepared for the White House meeting on “Bridging the Thirty-Million-Word Gap”

By the time American children enter kindergarten, there is a well established and pervasive gap between the average oral language skills of children from higher versus lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds. This SES-related language gap is of great concern, as it persists throughout the school years creating disparities in academic and occupational success. There is increasing scientific consensus that intervening early to prevent the gap from developing is a more promising approach than intervening later to remediate the gap. To effectively plan policies and programs that will address the language gap, we need to understand its sources and consequences.