Monday, March 7, 2011

Families And Not Schools Determine Children's Success: Switch To Family Centric From School Centric Skill Training: Switch US Education Funding To Parent Skills Funding To Close Income And Education Level Gap

From "The American Family in Black and White: A Post-Racial Strategy for Improving Skills to Promote Equality" by James J. Heckman, February 2011:
While the cognitive skills measured by achievement tests are powerful predictors of life success, so are socioemotional skills—sometimes called “soft skills” or character traits. These involve motivation, sociability (the ability to work with and cooperate with others), attention, self regulation, self esteem, the ability to defer gratification and the like. Good schools and functional families produce soft skills as well as cognitive skills. For many outcomes, soft skills are as predictive, if not more predictive, of schooling, wages, participation in crime and participation in healthy behaviors as cognitive skills. There is evidence that disadvantaged children of all race groups have lower levels of soft skills.
How Best to Foster Skills

What are the best ways to promote skills and reduce achievement gaps? Is it fixing schools? Is it supplementing the resources of families? It is both but with proper timing and measure. In the current fiscal climate, we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the War on Poverty and try to do everything. Prioritization is essential. Bad schools should be improved, but supplementing the parenting resources of disadvantaged families is an effective and less commonly understood way to improve educational outcomes.

One year after the Moynihan report circulated, the eminent sociologist James Coleman and his colleagues produced a study that challenged a central premise of American policy. The report showed that families and not the attributes of schools, the focus of much current public policy, determined the success of children in schools as measured by their performance on achievement tests.
At the present time, our social policy for fostering the skills of children largely focuses on improving schools.
The evidence on the success of school reforms is at best mixed. For example, not all charter schools are more effective than public schools. The latest evaluations show that 20% are better; 20% are worse and most—60%—about the same. Moreover, parental involvement and encouragement appear to be essential ingredients of successful charters.

Surely we can and should improve our schools. But, in light of the evidence from the Coleman Report and a vast body of scholarly literature that arose from that study, improving the schools by hiring better teachers, monitoring their performance, reducing classroom sizes, and improving access to the Internet is unlikely to be enough to eliminate gaps, although much recent public policy and philanthropic activity is predicated on that assumption. Schools work with what parents bring them and they are more successful if parents support them.
we know for certain that parents do a lot more than pass on their genes, and good parenting matters a lot.
Read Heckman's complete paper here.

See my earlier post, "Improving Mother's Literacy Improves Disadvantaged Child's Academic Performance" on October 25, 2010.

1 comment :

  1. Indeed, good parenting definitely counts!. Thank you for sharing this. By understanding this matter, we could stand tall and be proud of our choice.