Parents vs. School

Which do you think has more influence on student test scores? Check out this info from the book Freakonomics:

8 factors that correlate to higher test scores

1. Highly educated parents
2. Parents have high socioeconomic status
3. Mother was thirty or older at the time of first child's birth
4. Child had low birth weight
5. Parents speak English at home (in the USA)
6. Child is adopted
7. Parents are involved in the PTA
8. Child has many books in the home

8 factors that DO NOT correlate to higher test scores

1. Family is intact
2. Family's recent move to a better neighborhood
3. Mother did not work between birth and kindergarten
4. Child attended Head Start
5. Parents bring children to museums regularly
6. Child is regularly spanked
7. Child frequently watches television
8. Parents read to him nearly every day

What tests exactly? What about the influence of teachers? Are these Freakonomic guys for real? Despite the many questions these factors raise, they certainly make me think about my role as a parent and an educator.

To what degree are teachers just passing students along, delivering the inevitable to the world?

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2 thoughts on “Parents vs. School

  1. Just checking to make sure it’s understood that when a study says it has no correlation that means that it didn’t find a correlation or connection, as if those factors did not matter. It doesn’t mean that those things definitely have a negative effect.. they have no effect at all according to statistics. When they find a statistical correlation, depending on how big the sample group was or how scientifically sound the study was, it might indicate that there is a relationship of some sort. But correlation does not equal causation. Sorry to be repeating something you already know, if that is the case. The cause is still out there, in between those factors and the end result. Those factors might be what makes the students and parents more accessible to the teachers and the school in general. Students from those backgrounds might appreciate school more, think it’s more worthwhile to put effort into their child’s education. Good question – what tests? Some tests are better indicators of future success of students than others? The study authors probably intended to poke at the arbitrary nature of testing and possibly suggest that teaching and schooling doesn’t matter as much. This study would have been better if it had focused on the quality of the school or the teaching. This study should have included “quality of the teachers” or “level of teacher approval and praise”, for example if it were to be fair. So it means nothing about teaching. And it’s not inevitable that you will be shuttled into one category or another, especially these days. I think this study must have been grasping at straws, just barely making the statistical cut off, with that “low birth weight” correlation and probably several others. But if it’s at all true, then we’d better be the best teachers we can be to make sure it doesn’t happen that way.

    • Thanks Courtney. I agree with all of your points. The best I expect to be gained from the above info from Freakonomics is good dialogue; the information given certainly begs more questions and leads one to doubt many aspects of the ‘study’, and I apologize that I cannot give any information as to how the study was actually run. It’s interesting, though, to read and reflect on many of their ‘studies’ they offer in their books and website. I came across it at a time when I was feeling a bit exasperated as a teacher so it made me wonder about our impact as educators.

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