Publication Date



Current explanations for the achievement gap do not fully explain why high-achieving poor and minority children perceive of college as being out of reach. This paper reviews perspectives on the achievement gap and proposes a model that incorporates a capabilities and assets approach. The uneven playing field created by unequal distribution of assets sustains educational advantage and high expectations for college among children from families with assets, while dampening expectations for college among poor and minority children. As a possible avenue to closing the gap, we suggest that increasing poor and minority children’s capability for financing college may increase educational engagement and the likelihood that they will expect to attend college.

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Financial Capability

Original Citation

Elliott, W., III, & Sherraden, M. S. (2007). The achievement gap from a capabilities and asset perspective (CSD Working Paper No. 07-10). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


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academic achievement, low income, assets, college expectations, college enrollment, asset ownership, asset accumulation, child savings, college savings