« McGrades | Main | What Were Your SAT Scores? »

Home and Schooling


An Educational Testing Service study suggests that students’ low standardized test scores may have little to do with school quality, and much to do with outside factors like poverty and home environment, according to The New York Times.

The study examined four variables outside of school control to predict state results on federal eighth grade reading tests. States with the lowest test scores tended to be those which had the highest percentages of children from single-parent homes, eighth-grade absenteeism, and eighth graders watching a lot of television, and the lowest percentages of young children being read to daily. The findings point to an achievement gap that exists before children enter school and underscores the need for government programs that could help, like quality day care and paid maternity leave, the study concludes.

“Kids start school from platforms of different heights,” says study co-author Richard J. Cooley. “If we’re really interested in raising overall levels of achievement and in closing the achievement gap, we need to pay as much attention to the starting line as we do to the finish line.”


Is anyone with me when I say, "duh"?

Marjee's response is symptomatic of a refusal to look as responsibility for eduation from a social, rather than personal, perspective. It sets an unfortunately low set of expectations for students in many of the districts with high concentrations of students in poverty. Remember, the ETS study is looking at state-level, not individual, differences in outcome.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has carried out a similar study using PISA scores and determinents of home environment (parent education and employment, marital status, etc). They look at differences in attainment at both the individual and the school level, and find a much smaller amount of variability to be explained by these factors. What is very interesting is that the United States shows an effect that is significantly above the mean--while in some consistently high performing countries (Finland, for example, but also Canada), this effect is diminished.

In the US, we have come to accept that one's background is destiny--a really frightening state of affairs considering our history, and the rejection of class systems.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Margo/Mom: Marjee's response is symptomatic of a refusal to look as read more
  • Marjee: Is anyone with me when I say, "duh"? read more




Technorati search

» Blogs that link here