Educated parents enhance their children’s development and human capital by drawing on their own advanced language skills in communicating with their children.They are more likely to pose questions instead of directives and employ a broader and more complex vocabulary.But it’s not hard to imagine direct effects of income on student achievement.
By participating in parent-teacher conferences and volunteering at school, they may encourage staff to attend to their children’s individual needs.
In addition, highly educated parents are more likely than their less-educated counterparts to read to their children.
Working multiple jobs or inconvenient shifts makes it hard to dedicate time for family dinners, enforce a consistent bedtime, read to infants and toddlers, or invest in music lessons or sports clubs.
Even small differences in access to the activities and experiences that are known to promote brain development can accumulate, resulting in a sizable gap between two groups of children defined by family circumstances.
Because parental education influences children’s learning both directly and through the choice of a school, we do not know how much of the correlation can be attributed to direct impact and how much to school-related factors.
Teasing out the distinct causal impact of parental education is tricky, but given the strong association between parental education and student achievement in every industrialized society, the direct impact is undoubtedly substantial.
Zeroing In on Family Background Coleman’s advisory panel refused to sign off on the report, citing “methodological concerns” that continue to reverberate.
Subsequent research has corroborated the finding that family background is strongly correlated with student performance in school.
In this essay I look at four family variables that may influence student achievement: family education, family income, parents’ criminal activity, and family structure.
I then consider the ways in which schools can offset the effects of these factors.