By the time they are toddlers, Latino children trail their white counterparts by up to six months in understanding words, speaking in more complex sentences and performing such simple tasks as assembling puzzles. The findings from researchers at UC Berkeley, UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh are based on a nationwide tracking study of more than 8,000 children born in 2001 and are being published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal and the medical journal Pediatrics. Past studies have documented disparities between Latino children and their white peers in kindergarten and persistent achievement gaps in later grades. The new findings pinpoint the beginnings of those gaps at an earlier age than previously thought. "Cognitive skills and language during toddler years are a strong predictor of who will do well in kindergarten and early elementary grades," said study co-author Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at UC Berkeley.
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