Here is a sampling of other parental factors that matter and don’t:
Matters: The child has highly educated parents.
Doesn’t: The child regularly watches TV at home.
Matters: The child’s parents have high income.
Doesn’t: The child’s mother didn’t work between birth and kindergarten.
Matters: The child’s parents speak English in the home.
Doesn’t: The child’s parents regularly take him to museums.
Matters: The child’s mother was 30 or older at time of the child’s birth.
Doesn’t: The child attended Head Start.
Matters: The child’s parents are involved in the PTA.
Doesn’t: The child is regularly spanked at home.
The most interesting conclusion here is one that many modern parents may find disturbing: Parenting technique is highly overrated. When it comes to early test scores, it’s not so much what you do as a parent, it’s who you are.
It’s scary how much the story makes it sound like there is exactly one measure of parental success, and that is the test scores of their kids. Maybe I was prejudiced by the fact that I saw it here first with just the headline: “Do parents matter?”, and the excerpt “here is the sample of other parental factors that matter and don’t”. The authors do, in the article, introduce it as being about acceptance of kids into colleges. But even with that, if you read through it, it’s a little eerie how close they come to saying “parental success is measured solely by the test scores of kids”.
Really, I wish they would say “Correlates:” instead of “Matters:”. They don’t really know what matters, all the study shows is what correlates. Age of the mother correlates w/ test scores, but why? Does that mean that if you choose to have children while you are young you should expect to have lower test scores? Or does it say something about the overall choices of people who have children accidentally or without giving it much thought when they are young? Because if those people’s kids’ test scores are lower, this study is not going to do a good job of differentiating them from the kids (statistical outliers within their age-of-parent groups) whose mothers had them when they were young, but did so as a conscious decision because that was what they wanted then.
Aug 31st, 2007 / 5:12 am