An Educational Testing Service study suggests that students’ low standardized test scores may have little to do with school quality, and much to do with outside factors like poverty and home environment, according to The New York Times.
The study examined four variables outside of school control to predict state results on federal eighth grade reading tests. States with the lowest test scores tended to be those which had the highest percentages of children from single-parent homes, eighth-grade absenteeism, and eighth graders watching a lot of television, and the lowest percentages of young children being read to daily. The findings point to an achievement gap that exists before children enter school and underscores the need for government programs that could help, like quality day care and paid maternity leave, the study concludes.
“Kids start school from platforms of different heights,” says study co-author Richard J. Cooley. “If we’re really interested in raising overall levels of achievement and in closing the achievement gap, we need to pay as much attention to the starting line as we do to the finish line.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.