top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Rich kids, smart kids

Wealthy parents raise high-scoring children, according to new SAT and ACT data, reports Claire Cain Miller in the New York Times. "One-third of the children of the very richest families scored a 1300 or higher on the SAT, while less than 5 percent of middle-class students did," according to an analysis by Opportunity Insights, based at Harvard. Only a tiny percentage of lower-income students did that well. Most of them didn't take the test.


"Children from rich and poor families receive vastly different educations," writes Miller. "The differences among schools are less important than what happens outside of school," research suggests. It's "what children do in the evenings and on summer breaks, their parents’ vocabularies, and the level of stress in their home lives."


"The heritability of cognitive ability appears to play some role on an individual level," she writes, but environment matters too.


“K-12 schools only manage 10 percent of children’s time, and they do it pretty equitably,” said economist Nate G. Hilger, author of The Parent Trap. “The other 90 percent of nonschool time — early childhood, after school, summer, private extracurriculars, counseling, tutoring, coaching, therapy, health management — masks all the most important inequality of opportunity.”


Educated parents have embraced intensive parenting, immersing their children in enriching, educational experiences, writes Miller. "Half a century ago, rich and poor parents spent about the same amount of time with their children. Now high-income parents spend more one-on-one time with them." Robert Putnam, author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, calls it "Goodnight Moon time.


As it happens, I read Goodnight Moon every night to my daughter for years. Last week, I gave her a copy at her baby shower. (I'm going to be a grandmother!!!) The reading chair by the crib is next to shelves of little-kid books.


Education researchers advocate "universal pre-K, increased funding for schools in low-income neighborhoods and reduced residential segregation," writes Miller.


Income segregation is driving achievement gaps, she writes. "Children are increasingly likely to live and attend schools in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty or affluence."


Creating socioeconomically mixed neighborhoods would help -- but is it doable?

250 views20 comments

20 Comments


Guest
Oct 27, 2023

Several years ago, a data scientist in our district crunched numbers tracking year over year progress for students in different groups (cumulative, SES, minority). The test scores of low SES students started lower and remained that way throughout the years studied (I think K-8 or 3-8) BUT the slope of learning (year over year improvement) was very similar for both groups. In other words, they were improving at a similar rate. It's unfortunate that our schools try to push everyone into college and give short shrift to trades. I suspect this contributes significantly to the shrinking middle class (along with over taxation, over regulation, etc.) This effect will only be exacerbated in CA and other test blind colleges that…

Like

Guest
Oct 27, 2023

I remember reading that kids from homes with lots of books (per survey) did better than kids with few books at home; spurring book give-aways to disadvantaged kids. I have no problem with that, but a stack of books does no good if it’s only used to hold the video game console. Like many other “good things”, it’s likely to be a proxy variable for a number of other, desirable attributes, behaviors and practices in homes with successful parents and kids. Such homes are more likely to be found in communities with similar attribute, habits and expectations. Community matters

Like

Steve Sherman
Steve Sherman
Oct 27, 2023

"Creating socioeconomically mixed neighborhoods would help"


Das Comrade


All must attend government school in assigned sector

Like
Guest
Oct 28, 2023
Replying to

Not necessarily. Busing was devised on the racist idea that the black kids would learn good habits by sitting next to the white kids.


JK Brown

Like

Guest
Oct 27, 2023

The one thing schools and "educators" will not do is teach students how to study, how to learn. Most don't even know what they did to learn. But a kid from a wealthy family is likely to have parents who figured out how to learn. They themselves may not know what they did different than the "dumb" kids, but they reinvented the wheel. Now with their children the successful parent will even unconsciously exemplify those skills and traits. They will ask the questions of their children, they will give innocuous advice on the essay.


If you want poor kids to do better, teach them how to process a book or lecture. Teach this and see what happens.


True or logical…

Like
Guest
Oct 28, 2023
Replying to

And yet, such teaching disappeared. McMurry's book was well cited in the 1910s, but fell out of favor. But while popular some students taught his factors would have become teachers, and they would have taught their students, but each generation the skills are lost until we have what we have today. All because being an old idea, none of the EdDs could figure out to make money off the ideas, assuming they found them instead of sticking with their indoctrination. Teaching use to be a trade/profession that relied on tried and proven methods, but then they decided it needed to be academic and have advanced degrees that relied on doing experiments on children with no ethical oversight to stop…

Like

Guest
Oct 27, 2023

In my state, there are many socioeconomically mixed districts as the boundaries were drawn that way when mergers were done fifty years ago. The ultrawealthy do not attend public. The mix doesn't help, because the districts don't offer enough seats in college prep to all that are capable. What I'm seeing now is middle class families' students going into engineering, bio, and law as older students because their wealthier friends urge them to as they succeed (ie family gave up vacation or worked OT in order to buy math after Regent's Geometry online plus pay for Dual Enrollment) or their poorer friends succeed (preferred seating and Foundation aid in high school plus tuition free college) ...but they are on…

Like
bottom of page