The Family: America’s Smallest School
Large and growing percentages of the nation’s children, especially those who come from poor or minority families, come to school lacking the home and family supports they need to succeed in the classroom, concludes a report by the Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service.
The study found, for instance, that 32 percent of U.S. children live in single-parent homes, up from 23 percent in 1980; by age 4, the average child in a professional family hears about 20 million more words than the average child in a working-class family, and about 35 million more words than children in families living on welfare; 62 percent of kindergartners from high-income families are read to every day by their parents, compared with 36 percent of children from low-income families; and one in five students misses three days or more of school each month.
The report suggests that achievement gaps are formed even before children come to school and persist throughout their school careers.
A version of this article appeared in the November 07, 2007 edition of Education Week