information for transformational people

School 3 246Family matters for student performance

From an article from the Institute for Family Studies

Research from USA shows that students who do well in school:

  • tend to have parents who did well and went far with their own schooling
  • have access to adequate schools and educational opportunity
  • at home they receive emotional support, intellectual stimulation, guidance, and discipline.

In addition, data from a recent, national, 13,500 parent survey was examined to explore the link between students’ family living arrangements and three key indicators of student performance in elementary and secondary schools across the United States. The indicators were:

  • whether the student was achieving mostly A grades in school;
  • whether the parent had been contacted by the student’s school due to problem behaviour that the child was exhibiting at school; and,
  • whether the student had ever been suspended or expelled from school due to serious misconduct or non-cooperation.

These school performance indicators were cross-analysed with the type of family in which the student lived. These were adjusted for related factors like family income, parent education, age, race, and enrolled grade level of the student, and poverty level and minority concentration of the neighbourhood in which the student lived.

The analyses showed that schoolchildren who live with both married parents do better on each of the three educational progress indicators. Children from married-couple families did better even after controlling for socioeconomic and demographic correlates of family structure.

Good grades
Nearly one-half of U.S. parents (49%) reported that their children received “mostly A’s” on their report cards. More than half of students from married two-parent families had mostly A grades, whereas the same was true of less than half of students from most of the other family types.

Parent contacted by school for student misbehaviour
Nearly one in five U.S. parents (19%) reported that they had been contacted by the child’s school at least once due to their child’s misconduct in class or on the school grounds. Differences in adjusted school contact rates between students in intact families and those in unmarried, disrupted, or reconstituted families were substantial. Students from single-parent and stepfamilies were nearly twice as likely to have had their parents contacted as students living with married birth parents. Students with adoptive and foster parents were three times more likely to have had parents contacted.

One in 10 students in the U.S. had parents who reported that they had been suspended or expelled from a school at least once in their academic careers. Students in single-parent families and those with cohabiting birth parents had suspension rates that were one-and-a half-times higher than the rate for students with married birth parents.

The results of this analysis show once again that student performance cannot be understood apart from the family dynamics. At the same time, the findings of this and earlier studies show that students from single-parent and step-families are not all alike in their academic performance and classroom behaviour. Although many display temporary impairments in response to family stress, most recover and go on to do as well in school as they were doing before the disruption. When there are more lasting consequences of family change, there are usually other risk factors involved, such as parental neglect, continuing conflict between parents, domestic violence, or a family history of substance abuse, criminality, or mental illness. Thus, teachers and school administrators would be making a mistake in holding a stereotyped image of students from non-traditional families, especially in seeing them all as troublemakers or dropouts.

It is unfair and unrealistic to expect schools, no matter how well-resourced, to overcome or compensate for the family stress, churning, or lack of support and direction that too many students get at home. We should be asking what our communities and larger society could be doing to assist these young people and help ensure that future generations of children have a stable, supportive family life.

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From an article from the Institute for Family Stud, 29/07/2020

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