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International Analysis Examines Nonschool Factors Link to Achievement

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Nonschool factors—such as a teenager’s socioeconomic status—affect American students’ achievement in ways similar to the effects on students in other developed nations, concludes a study by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The NCES, an arm of the U.S. Department of Education, examined the reading, math, and science scores of 15-year-olds from 20 countries considered to be among the most economically developed in the world. The scores were from the 2003 Program for International Student Assessment.

The study compares the links between student achievement and six nonschool factors: the highest level of education attained by either parent; highest occupational status of either parent; number of books that a 15-year-old has access to at home; whether students speak the native language of their country at home; students’ immigrant status; and family structure. It found that students from families of higher socioeconomic status generally outperformed their less-advantaged peers on achievement tests.

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