Family Environments, School Resources, and Educational Outcomes: Volume 19

Cover of Family Environments, School Resources, and Educational Outcomes
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(13 chapters)
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Abstract

Most social scientists believe that schools serving the disadvantaged provide considerably poorer learning environments than schools serving advantaged students. As a result, schools are thought to be an important source of social problems like inequality. However, an important subset of research employing seasonal comparisons (observing how achievement gaps change when school is in versus out) disputes this position. These studies note that socioeconomic-based gaps in skills grow faster when school is out versus in, suggesting that achievement gaps would be larger if not for schools. I discuss the advantages of seasonal comparison studies and how they provide a more contextual perspective for understanding several important questions, such as: (1) What is the distribution of school quality? (2) How does inequality outside of school condition the way schools matter? and (3) Which policies, school or non-school, most effectively reduce achievement gaps? I conclude that our understanding of how schools influence inequality would be improved by employing the more contextual perspective offered by seasonal comparisons. Seasonal comparison studies have not played a meaningful role in public discussions and so the public lacks a proper understanding of the extent to which social context shapes achievement gaps. This is unfortunate because we continue to try and address achievement gaps primarily through school reform when the real source of the problem lies in the inequalities outside of schools.

Abstract

Applying sociological and developmental theoretical perspectives to educational policy issues, this study analyzed data from 7,710 children from low-income families in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort. The goal was to examine how much the association between phonics instruction in kindergarten classrooms and children’s reading achievement during the first year of school in the low-income population would depend on whether children had previously attended preschool as well as the socioeconomic composition of their elementary schools. Lagged linear models with a series of sensitivity tests revealed that this association was strongest among children from low-income families who had not attended preschool and then enrolled in socioeconomically disadvantaged elementary schools and among children from low-income families who had attended preschool and then enrolled in socioeconomically advantaged elementary schools. These findings demonstrate how insights into educational inequality can be gained by situating developing children within their proximate ecologies and institutional settings, especially looking to the match between children and their contexts. They are especially relevant to timely policy discussions of early childhood education programs, classroom instructional practices, and school desegregation.

Abstract

Staff turnover may have important consequences for the development of collective social resources based on trust, shared norms, and support among school professionals. We outline the theoretical role-specific consequences of principal and teacher turnover for features of principal leadership and teacher community, and we test these ideas in repeated teacher survey data from a sample of 73 Los Angeles elementary schools. We find evidence that principal turnover fundamentally disrupts but does not systematically decrease relational qualities of principal leadership; negative changes for initially high social resource schools offset positive changes for initially low social resource schools, suggesting that relational instability “resets” the resources that develop in the relationships between leadership and teachers. Greater consistency in measures of teacher community in the face of teacher turnover implies that the social resources inhering in the relationships among teachers are more robust to instability.

Abstract

We examine the cumulative effects of mothers’ and grandparents’ institutionalized cultural capital (educational credentials) on parenting approaches and children’s educational outcomes to determine if degree attainment in one generation equalizes educational advantages for children. Using data on kindergarteners, first-graders, and their mothers from the 1998 to 1999 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, we find minor differences in parenting approaches: When grandparents and mothers all have college degrees (Continuing-Generation), children are involved in more activities and have more books at home; however, school involvement is similar whether mothers have more education than their parents (First-Generation) or are Continuing-Generation. There are no differences between children of First- or Continuing-Generation mothers in how they are rated for effort by teachers. Differences in first-grade math achievement scores between children of First- and Continuing-Generation mothers disappear once controlling for parenting approaches. However, significant differences remain between the groups in how teachers rate the children’s language and literacy skills, even after controlling for parenting approaches. These findings imply that attaining a college degree may not benefit the children of First-Generation mothers to the same extent that it does the children of Continuing-Generation mothers for some academic outcomes. Moreover, children whose mothers and grandparents have only high school diplomas are at a disadvantage compared to children of First-Generation mothers for first grade math achievement and language and literacy ratings, as well as for growth in these outcomes between kindergarten and first grade.

Abstract

Using data from the 2000 Program for International Student Assessment, we examined determinants of children’s participation in highbrow cultural activities and its relationship with academic achievement in Hong Kong. We found that family socioeconomic status (SES) and home possessions related to high-status culture were important determinants of children’s participation in highbrow cultural activities. Yet, we found no significant relationship between children’s participation in highbrow cultural activities and academic achievement when controlling for other variables. We highlighted several characteristics of Hong Kong society and its educational system, including the British colonial experience, extreme focus on test preparation, and extensive shadow education, all of which may combine to explain the role of cultural resources in this East Asian society.

Abstract

This study explores the impact of parents’ and children’s early expectations on children’s later school persistence and completion of compulsory and secondary education, paying special attention to the parent-child agreement in early educational expectations. Results from analyzing longitudinal data from the Gansu Survey of Children and Families (GSCF) show that children often carry educational expectations quite different from their parents’. Consistent with previous research, children’s and their parents’ early expectations are strong predictors of children’s later educational attainment. More importantly, the analysis reveals that children benefit greatly when they share with their parents’ high expectations. Those children whose high expectations aligned with their parents fair best in later educational outcomes: They are more likely to complete compulsory education and secondary education. The combined determination of parents and children can help moderate the negative impact of poverty and facilitate children’s continued efforts in fulfilling their expectations. This positive impact holds even for children from the most impoverished families. This study points to the importance to recognize that there are non-material resources that family could provide to advance children’s education.

Cover of Family Environments, School Resources, and Educational Outcomes
DOI
10.1108/S1479-3539201619
Publication date
2016-06-28
Book series
Research in the Sociology of Education
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78441-628-7
eISBN
978-1-78441-627-0
Book series ISSN
1479-3539