I often comment that educational solutions cannot solely be a responsibility of the schools. Communities must take the reigns and help solve many of the dilemmas facing education, and the ETS seems to agree with me that poverty may be the largest obstacle to overcome when creating academic success.
Here are some of the highlights from the report indicating that a number of factors outside the classroom “account for about two-thirds of the large differences among states in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores”:
- 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.
From these statistics, albeit a small number, I glean that severe disadvantages befall many students before they even begin school. Also, the break-up of the nuclear family appears to have some affect on academic success.
I also tend to focus on reading scores because reading ability affects every subject area. Reading is required from language arts to science to social studies and more. I’ve also seen statistics on numerous occasions showing that if a student does not read at grade level by 3rd grade, statistically speaking the student never will. Thus, success rates in education are a social problem.
Other statistics in 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.