Family Factors Critical to Closing the Achievement Gap
A press release announcing the 2007 ETS report: The Family, America’s Smallest School, summarizes important statistical information about developmental reading:
The Family: America’s Smallest School examines the family and home experiences that influence children’s learning. Factors include single parent families, poverty and resources, parents talking and reading to children, quality day care, and parental involvement in school. The report was written by Paul E. Barton and Richard J. Coley of ETS’s Policy Information Center. It includes a preface and endorsement by Marc H. Morial, president of the National Urban League.
“When parents, teachers and schools work together to support learning, students do better in school and stay in school longer,” says Barton. “Our analysis shows that factors like single-parent families, parents reading to children, hours spent watching television and school absences, when combined, account for about two-thirds of the large differences among states in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores.”
Findings in the report show that:
- Thirty-two percent of U.S. children live in single-parent homes, up from 23% in 1980.
- Thirty-three percent of children live in families in which no parent has a full-time, year-round job.
- By age 4, children of professional families hear 35 million more words than children of parents on welfare.
- Half of the nation’s two-year-olds are in some kind of regular day care. Seventy-five percent are in center-based day care rated of medium- or low-quality.
- A comparison of eighth-graders in 45 countries found that U.S. students spend less time reading books for enjoyment — and more time watching television and videos —than students in many other countries.
Other highlights from the report include:
- Forty-four percent of births to women under 30 are out-of-wedlock.
- Nationally, 11 percent of all households are “food insecure.” The rate for female-headed households is triple the rate for married families.
- Sixty-two percent of high SES kindergartners are read to every day by their parents, compared to 36 percent of kindergartners from low SES groups.
- One in five students misses three days or more of school a month. The United States ranked 25th of 45 countries in students’ school attendance.
“The important educational role of parents is often overlooked in our local, state, and national discussions about raising student achievement and closing achievement gaps,” notes Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and former mayor of New Orleans.
Download the full report, “The Family: America’s Smallest School,” for free at www.ets.org/familyreport. Purchase copies for $15 (prepaid) by writing to the Policy Information Center, ETS, MS 19-R, Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541-0001; by calling (609) 734-5949; or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ETS celebrates a 60-year history of advancing quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research and related services for all people worldwide. Additional information is available at www.ets.org.