When researchers report on gaps in educationalattainment and income among different segments of theU.S. population, the most immediate concern is usuallythe long-term social impact that such gaps imply. Asthis year’s national elections quickly approach, authorsRichard J. Coley and Andrew Sum suggest in this reportthat these gaps pose another, perhaps equally concerning,threat to the nation’s well being: They indicate fault linesin our democracy, because they reliably predict whichgroups are most or least likely to participate in the mostfundamental activities of a representative democracy — voting and civic engagement.Beginning with the dismal state of the civicsknowledge of our nation’s students, the cornerstone of a strong democracy, the authors document the strongassociation between individual characteristics — suchas age, education, and income — and important civicactivities, such as voting and volunteering. Their analysesreveal a startling level of stratication at the nation’s polling stations, from a voting rate of 3.5 percent for voting-age high school dropouts to 80.5 percent for well-off, advanced-degree holders between the agesof 55 and 64. “This,” they write, “represents a seriouscivic empowerment gap for our nation.”At ETS, this gap concerns us because we arededicated to measuring knowledge and skills, promotinglearning and educational performance, and supportingeducation and professional development for all peopleworldwide. We hope that readers will consider not onlythe authors’ thoughtful analysis of the data, but also their recommendations for addressing the educational needsthat the data imply.Ida LawrenceSenior Vice PresidentResearch & Development
The authors wish to acknowledge the contributionsof many individuals who played signicant roles inthe preparation of this report. At the Center for Labor Market Studies, we are grateful for the work of Ishwar Khatiwada, Troy Martin, Joseph McLaughlin, SheilaPalma, and Mykhaylo Trubskyy. At ETS, we wantto acknowledge the support of Irwin Kirsch and IdaLawrence. Larry Hanover and Eileen Kerrigan wereeditors; Marita Gray designed the cover; and SallyAcquaviva provided layout and design services.The authors wish to thank the following individualswho provided reviews of the report: Timothy Barnicle, National Center on Education and the Economy; AdamBerinsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; IrwinKirsch, ETS; Peter Levine, Center for Informationand Research on Civic Learning and Engagement;Judith Torney-Purta, University of Maryland; andGail Spangenberg, Council for Advancement of AdultLiteracy. Errors of fact or interpretation are those of the authors.