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Do Standardized Tests in Reading Measure Teachers or Parents?


A story on indicated that math scores on standardized tests are easier to improve upon then reading scores are. Their rationale: students’ language learning is less strongly influenced by formal education than by home life. This got us thinking about standardized tests, and whether they measure the success of teachers, parents, or both. (Source) didn’t cite specific research, but it did point out that reading levels are deeply intertwined with a student’s personal background and home life, meaning that standardized test scores for reading might say more about a child’s parents and informal learning than it does about the child’s classroom education:

“Math is a skill that students mostly learn in school. Reading skills, on the other hand, are more intertwined with students’ backgrounds — everything from their family income to how many words they heard early in life,” the story said.

Curious, we hunted around the Internet looking for research and other news stories to support the idea that teachers may have less influence on students’ test scores (in any subject area) than parents do. Here’s what we found:

· The Telegraph reports on a study conducted at the University of London that showed parental influence to be five times more powerful than formal education. (Source)
· The Heritage Foundation says that there is a “strong relationship between parental influences and children’s educational outcomes, from school readiness to college completion.” (Source)
· This Op-Ed piece from the New York Times says that teenagers whose parents read them books often as young children scored much higher on the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) test than those whose parents did not often read to them. (Source)
· But this blog post, also from the New York Times, begs to differ. Parent involvement in a child’s education, according to a study by the authors, is overrated.

What do you think? Do you believe that how you supplement your child’s formal education at home has as strong — or stronger — of an influence on your child’s standardized test scores than their formal public school education does? Weigh in on our Facebook Page, or leave a comment right here on the blog.

You can read the full story that inspired this post here.

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