Kindergarteners of working mothers score higher

This article also appeared here.

This article also appeared here.

Here’s another data point in the mommy wars. Kindergarten children of full-time and part-time working parents score higher in both math and reading than their peers with a stay-at-home parent. But children with only a single parent had lower average test scores than either two parent scenario. That’s according to the Digest of Education Statistics 2012 that was released on Dec. 31, 2013. (The data is in Table 135). I was surprised to see that not only were the kindergarten entry test scores in the fall stronger of the children with working parents, but also the Spring kindergarten test scores. For example, a kindergarten child with two working parents scored, on average, 37 points in the fall of 2010, two points more than a kindergartener with one working parent and one stay-at-home parent. Whether the second parent works full time or part time doesn’t matter. The scores are equally high. That two-point lead continued in the Spring of 2011, when children of two working parents scored 52 points versus 50 points. The math gap was identical. Children with two working parents scored two points higher in both the fall and the spring than children with a stay-at-home parent.

What to make of this? I suspect the socio-economic profile of the stay-at-home mom has changed a lot in the past 20 years and that stay-at-home mothers might be, on average, less educated and less ambitious than their working counterparts. Perhaps the highly educated stay-at-home mother of the 1980s and 1990s is more likely to be a part-time worker today.

 

 


POSTED BY Jill Barshay ON January 3, 2014

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ally hoffman

You immediately jump to less educated, less ambitious stay at home mothers? What about better day care centers and preschools employing trained teachers these days? That was not common in the 80’s or 90’s. Working parents have better options than ever before. However, tests cannot measure the skills a child learns staying home with a dedicated parent. I am a proud and well educated stay at home mom to a 4 year old. As well as phonics, numbers, basic addition and subtraction, my daughter knows how to unload plastics from the dishwasher and put them in the right locations, she clears her place after meals, she sets the table, she assists me in cooking our meals, she knows how to sort laundry, she knows how to check books out at the library, and she knows that good things don’t just happen they are the result of discipline and hard work. I see those skills as equally important to the academic ones because help a child grow into an independent adult. What good are all those academic test scores when you’re living in your parents’ basement at 25 because no one ever taught you how to keep your life in order on your own.

Jill Barshay

@Ally Hoffman. At first, I was thinking that if improved day care and preschool quality were responsible for the high test scores of kindergarten children of working parents, I would expect the kindergarten children of single working parents to score higher too. They don’t. That’s why I homed in on socio-economic status. But on further reflection it could be that single moms are disproportionally low income and that’s why their children’s scores are lower, on average. Perhaps day care and preschools can be credited? When I read everything you are doing for your daughter, it seems improbable that a daycare would be anywhere as good. Here’s a question I have: do you think the average stay-at-home mom is less attentive than the average day care center?

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