New report links nine parental factors to achievement gap



by Christopher Paslay


In a newly released report titled Parsing the Achievement Gap II, the Educational Testing Service tracked national trends between students of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.  The report listed 16 factors that have been linked to student achievement. 


Of the 16 factors, nine were directly related to a child’s parents and home environment.  They were as follows:   


Parent participation: White students’ parents are more likely to attend a school event or to volunteer at school.


Frequent changing of schools: Minority students are more likely to change schools frequently.


Low birth weight: The percentage of Black infants born with low birth weight is higher than that for White and Hispanic infants.


Environmental damage: Minority and low-income children were more likely to be exposed to environmental hazards, such as lead and mercury.


Hunger and nutrition: Minority and low-income children were more likely to be food insecure.


Talking and reading to babies and young children: Minority and low-income children were less likely to be read to daily.


Excessive television watching: Minority and lower-SES children watch more television.


Parent-pupil ratio: Minority students were less likely to live with two parents.


Summer achievement gain/loss: Minority and low-SES students grow less academically over the summer.


Although the report also attributed the achievement gap to school equity issues, such as class size, the availability of technology and teacher experience, ETS did recommend placing an emphasis on improving the involvement of parents and the community.    


“Families . . . have a large responsibility to regulate use of the TV set, read to young children, see that they get to school, and support efforts to foster discipline and order in the schools,” ETS concluded in their report.  “Ignoring the impact of a student’s home circumstances will do nothing to help teachers and schools narrow achievement gaps.”


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