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The challenges of finding causal links between family educational practices and schooling outcomes

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... Cependant, les programmes visant à modifier les comportements des parents semblent avoir peu d'effets à long terme sur les enfants. Furstenberg (2011), a révisé une série d'études expérimentales et a conclu que les interventions familiales ont eu peu d'effets pour réduire les écarts de réussite scolaire. Il en vient à penser qu'il est très difficile de transférer les connaissances sur le pouvoir familial dans le processus d'apprentissage à l'extérieur de l'école, en interventions qui peuvent améliorer le rendement scolaire des élèves. ...
... Il affirme donc que s'immiscer « dans » les routines et les rituels des familles, et utiliser certaines ressources s'avèrent difficile, particulièrement dans les familles pauvres et instables. Furstenberg (2011) recommande l'implantation de plus de programmes d'apprentissage tels que des services de garde de qualité, la maternelle, et des programmes d'apprentissage pendant l'été. Ces programmes peuvent pallier de manière efficace les multiples disparités que l'on retrouve entre les familles. ...
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According to studies from the United States and English Canada, student achievement gaps grow over the summer months when children are not attending school, but summer literacy interventions can reduce those gaps. This paper presents data from a quasi-experiment conducted in eight Ontario French language school boards in 2010, 2011 and 2012 for 682 children in grades 1-3. Growth in literacy test scores between June and September are compared for 361 attendees of summer literacy programs and 321 control students. Summer program recruits initially had lower prior literacy scores and grades, and tended to hail from relatively disadvantaged social backgrounds. Yet, summer programs narrowed those pre-existing gaps. Effect sizes from a variety of regression and propensity score matching models ranged from .32 to .58, which is quite sizeable by the standards of elementary school interventions and summer programs. Effects were stronger among students whose parents reported not speaking French exclusively at home. Our paper considers learning opportunity theory in light of the "non-traditional" student in Ontario French language schools.
... Cependant, les programmes visant à modifier les comportements des parents semblent avoir peu d'effets à long terme sur les enfants. Furstenberg (2011), a révisé une série d'études expérimentales et a conclu que les interventions familiales ont eu peu d'effets pour réduire les écarts de réussite scolaire. Il en vient à penser qu'il est très difficile de transférer les connaissances sur le pouvoir familial dans le processus d'apprentissage à l'extérieur de l'école, en interventions qui peuvent améliorer le rendement scolaire des élèves. ...
... Il affirme donc que s'immiscer « dans » les routines et les rituels des familles, et utiliser certaines ressources s'avèrent difficile, particulièrement dans les familles pauvres et instables. Furstenberg (2011) recommande l'implantation de plus de programmes d'apprentissage tels que des services de garde de qualité, la maternelle, et des programmes d'apprentissage pendant l'été. Ces programmes peuvent pallier de manière efficace les multiples disparités que l'on retrouve entre les familles. ...
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Résumé. Selon des études américaines et réalisées au Canada anglais, les écarts au chapitre du rendement scolaire se creusent durant la période des vacances estivales lorsque les élèves ne fréquentent pas l’école. Néanmoins, les interventions scolaires en littératie peuvent réduire ces écarts. Le présent article présente les résultats d’une étude quasi-expérimentale, effectuée dans huit conseils scolaires de district de langue française en Ontario, auprès de 682 élèves de la première à la troisième année en 2010, 2011 et 2012. Nous avons comparé la progression des résultats des tests en lecture de 361 participants aux programmes d’apprentissage pendant l’été à ceux des 321 élèves du groupe témoin entre juin et septembre. Les participants au programme d’apprentissage pendant l’été avaient au départ des résultats en lecture et résultats scolaires plus faibles, et provenaient majoritairement de milieux socio-économiques défavorisés. Néanmoins, les programmes d’apprentissage pendant l’été ont réduit les écarts préexistants entre les deux groupes. L’ampleur de l’effet d’une variété de modèles d’analyses de régression multivariées et de modèles d’appariement des coefficients de propension ont varié de 0,32 à 0,58. Ces résultats représentent un effet considérable dans le contexte de l’éducation au niveau primaire et des études sur les programmes d’apprentissage pendant l’été. Les effets sont plus importants pour les élèves dont les parents ne parlent pas exclusivement le français à la maison. Notre article applique la théorie sur les opportunités d’apprentissage au contexte des élèves dits « non traditionnels » dans les écoles de langue française en Ontario.
... We end on a cautionary note to parents and policymakers eager to find ways to improve family functioning and the fortunes of children. We know from research on children's school outcomes that there is at best a modest match between observational studies showing powerful influences of the family and experimental studies designed to put the findings of this literature into practice (Furstenberg, 2011). Furstenberg argued that many family factors contributing to children's positive developmental trajectories are overlapping and mutually reinforcing and that it is naïve to expect to alter family practices ''by isolating one particular element of family life without acknowledging how families operate as social systems'' (p. ...
Article
Adolescents who share meals with their parents score better on a range of well-being indicators. Using three waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (N = 17,977), we assessed the causal nature of these associations and the extent to which they persist into adulthood. We examined links between family dinners and adolescent mental health, substance use, and delinquency at wave 1, accounting for detailed measures of the family environment to test whether family meals simply proxy for other family processes. As a more stringent test of causality, we estimated fixed effects models from waves 1 and 2, and we used wave 3 to explore persistence in the influence of family dinners. Associations between family dinners and adolescent well-being remained significant, net of controls, and some held up to stricter tests of causality. Beyond indirect benefits via earlier well-being, however, family dinners associations did not persist into adulthood.
... Consistent with this notion, aspects of the family environment may be seen as a package of family features that influence youth development, with shared meals and other family processes reinforcing each other (Furstenberg, 2011). For example, parents who maintain higher quality relationships with their children may be better at soliciting participation in mealtime conversation and checking in with children in nonthreatening ways. ...
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Empirical evidence and conventional wisdom suggest that family dinners are associated with positive outcomes for youth. Recent research using fixed-effects models as a more stringent test of causality suggests a more limited role of family meals in protecting children from risk. Estimates of average effects, however, may mask important variation in the link between family meals and well-being; in particular, family meals may be more or less helpful based on the quality of family relationships. Using 2 waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 17,977), this study extended recent work to find that family dinners have little benefit when parent-child relationships are weak but contribute to fewer depressive symptoms and less delinquency among adolescents when family relationships are strong. The findings highlight the importance of attending to variation when assessing what helps and what hurts in families.
... To see why grandparents may matter, we borrow from the extensive literature on why parents matter. The literature on parental effects has focused on three causal pathways: biological, economic, and socio-emotional (Ermisch 2008;Furstenberg 2011;Heckman 2006Heckman , 2011McLanahan and Percheski 2008;McLanahan and Sandefur 1994;Teachman 1987). If grandparents exert a significant influence on grandchildren after controlling for parents' characteristics, the causal mechanism cannot be biological, because genetic influences are mediated by the middle generation. ...
Article
The issue of whether the social class of grandparents affects grandchildren's socioeconomic outcomes net of the characteristics of the middle generation is much debated in the social mobility literature. Using data from the 2002 Chinese Household Income Project, we investigate the direct effects of grandparents on grandchildren's educational attainment in rural China. We find that the influence of grandparents is contingent on living arrangements. Although the educational level of coresident grandparents directly affects the educational attainment of their grandchildren, with an effect size similar to that of parental education, the education of noncoresident and deceased grandparents does not have any effect. These findings suggest that grandparents can directly affect grandchildren's educational outcomes through sociopsychological pathways. Our study not only adds an important case study to the literature but also sheds new light on theoretical interpretations of grandparent effects when they are found.
... Small-scale interventional efforts to teach disadvantaged parents about the benefits of speaking early, often, and richly to their children are producing promising results. [49] However, while some larger-scale parenting interventions such as the Nurse-Family Partnership program have led to moderate improvements in children's cognitive and behavioral outcomes, [50] many have a mixed record of success, [51] often due to difficulties with attrition and low participation. Overcoming obstacles to scaling up such interventions will require researchers and policy makers to carefully consider parental motivations and beliefs. ...
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Editor’s Note: Here’s a disturbing statistic that made headlines this past January: The richest 85 people in the world now hold as much wealth as the poorest half. Keeping in mind the goal of closing the ever-widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, our author examines new research that ties family income level and other factors to brain development. While socioeconomic adversity may not solely determine a child’s success later in life, its significant role in helping children develop language, memory, and life skills can no longer be ignored.
... Large-scale parenting interventions for disadvantaged families often report low uptake, high attrition and lack of parent engagement (Brown et al. 2012) and have mostly yielded modest results (Furstenberg 2011). Strong collaborative relationships with stakeholders from government and the early childhood service sector were maintained across all stages of the trial. ...
... Large-scale parenting interventions for disadvantaged families often report low uptake, high attrition and lack of parent engagement (Brown et al. 2012) and have mostly yielded modest results (Furstenberg 2011). Strong collaborative relationships with stakeholders from government and the early childhood service sector were maintained across all stages of the trial. ...
Article
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This study evaluated the effectiveness of a group parenting intervention designed to strengthen the home learning environment of children from disadvantaged families. Two cluster randomised controlled superiority trials were conducted in parallel and delivered within existing services: a 6-week parenting group (51 locations randomised; 986 parents) for parents of infants (aged 6?12?months), and a 10-week facilitated playgroup (58 locations randomised; 1200 parents) for parents of toddlers (aged 12?36?months). Each trial had three conditions: intervention (smalltalk group-only); enhanced intervention with home coaching (smalltalk plus); and ?standard?/usual practice controls. Parent-report and observational measures were collected at baseline, 12 and 32?weeks follow-up. Primary outcomes were parent verbal responsivity and home learning activities at 32?weeks. In the infant trial, there were no differences by trial arm for the primary outcomes at 32?weeks. In the toddler trial at 32-weeks, participants in the smalltalk group-only trial showed improvement compared to the standard program for parent verbal responsivity (effect size (ES)?=?0.16; 95% CI 0.01, 0.36) and home learning activities (ES?=?0.17; 95% CI 0.01, 0.38) but smalltalk plus did not. For the secondary outcomes in the infant trial, several initial differences favouring smalltalk plus were evident at 12?weeks, but not maintained to 32?weeks. For the toddler trial, differences in secondary outcomes favouring smalltalk plus were evident at 12?weeks and maintained to 32?weeks. These trials provide some evidence of the benefits of a parenting intervention focused on the home learning environment for parents of toddlers but not infants. Trial Registration: 8 September 2011; ACTRN12611000965909. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11121-017-0753-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
... Furstenberg also concludes that however difficult it is to increase human capital and reduce unplanned parenthood among disadvantaged children and youth, it is far more feasible to implement these policies than to accomplish the alternative approach of altering parenting practices within fragile families (see also Furstenberg, 2010). ...
... Moreover, because preschool efforts typically mirror those of the formal K-12 system (ages 6-18), they have yet to impact parents in a systematic and sustained way. As educator and social scientist Frank Furstenberg argues, the historical impact of policies designed "to alter family processes to reduce educational inequality [has been] largely inefficient" (Furstenberg, 2011). ...
Article
Behavioral economics and field experiments within the social sciences have advanced well beyond academic curiosum. Governments around the globe as well as the most powerful firms in modern economies employ staffs of behavioralists and experimentalists to advance and test best practices. In this study, we combine behavioral economics with field experiments to reimagine a new model of early childhood education. Our approach has three distinct features. First, by focusing public policy dollars on prevention rather than remediation, we call for much earlier educational programs than currently conceived. Second, our approach has parents at the center of the education production function rather than at its periphery. Third, we advocate attacking the macro education problem using a public health methodology, rather than focusing on piecemeal advances.
... Researchers argue that communities that develop close-knit networks of individuals or groups for the purpose of exchanging benefits possess social capital (Bourdieu, 1986;Coleman, 1987Coleman, , 1988Furstenberg, 2011;Parcel, Dufur, & Zito, 2010). The social interaction that occurs among adults from different families and in various institutions within a closed community, particularly schools, serves to increase those benefits that are ultimately pass down to their children (Coleman, 1988). ...
Article
Reforms in American public education have not resolved the wide academic performance gap between students. Officials respond by developing reforms, that is, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Waivers. The Waivers modified the more controversial aspects of ESEA/NCLB, which imposed a strict compliance deadline. This was a difficult task for many and an impossible one for the poorest school districts. Using factor analysis and logistic regression, this study provides a methodology for generating data to explain variation in student performance in Michigan school districts associated with organizational, school, financial, and social characteristics.
... Also, lowincome and adolescent parents are least likely to benefit from parenting programs (Bakermans-Kranenburg, van IJzendoorn, and Bradley 2005;Duncan et al. 2010). Thus, some scholars question the utility of such programs to significantly alter parenting practices or improve children's outcomes (Duncan et al. 2010;Furstenberg 2011;Tolani et al. 2006). The development of culturally relevant programs-designed to emphasize cultural strengths, value parents' beliefs, and teach racial socialization-is promising (Kumpfer et al. 2002). ...
Article
Parenting education programs aim to teach parents, often low-income mothers, a set of skills, behaviors, and attitudes believed to promote improved opportunities for their children. Parenting programs are often offered in schools, with instructors teaching pregnant or parenting teens about child development, attachment, and discipline strategies. Despite the large numbers of participants and significant public and private funding going to parenting education, sociologists of education in the United States have paid little attention to the topic. Existing research, by scholars in other disciplines, has found parenting education to be a relatively weak intervention. Yet this research focuses exclusively on individual-level processes, paying little attention to social context or other factors. This study uses extensive observational and interview data from parenting education programs in two schools and one social service organization to examine what is taught, what is not, and the intersections between program content and the structural realities shaping parents’ lives. The results show that although they were designed for low-income mothers, the classes were silent on the issue of poverty, treating poverty-related concerns as irrelevant to the task of parenting. Furthermore, when such topics did emerge, instructors redirected the conversations to personal behaviors and characteristics. Thus, the ‘‘hidden curriculum’’ of parenting education conveyed the message that good parenting should be unaffected by the challenges of poverty. The mothers, however, struggled to provide for their children in conditions of extreme scarcity, making it difficult for them to focus on other parenting issues.
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According to Duncan and Murnane (2011. “Introduction: The American Dream, Then and Now.” In Whither Opportunity?: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances, edited by Greg J. Duncan, and Richard J. Murnane, 3–25. New York: Russell Sage Foundation), questions about teachers’ commitment to schools that primarily serve low-income students should be addressed with a framework that accounts for the resources of families, neighbourhoods, and schools, how those resources interact, and the direct and indirect influences of those resources on teachers’ decisions to remain in their positions. With such an ecological framework, we studied an experienced music teacher who led the performing arts staff at an elementary school where almost 90 percent of students lived in areas of concentrated poverty and more than 60 percent of students were classified as English Language Learners. We addressed two main questions: (a) how did the teacher’s commitment to a school primarily serving low income students develop, and (b) how might her commitment be sustained? We aimed to understand one case in depth, and consequently to develop a provisional model that could be interrogated through further research.
Chapter
Children face very different chances of getting ahead in life depending on the circumstances of their birth. Parenting and its role in the diverging destinies of rich and poor children are discussed in this chapter. Inequality begins at home. It develops from the myriad differences in the ways advantaged and disadvantaged parents interact with their children. Traditional policy interventions fail to attack the root cause of achievement gaps. To equalize the playing field, governments may need to invest in parents so parents can better invest in their children. Unfortunately, large-scale parenting interventions typically yield modest effect sizes at best and often do not even change children’s skills in the long term. Understanding what motivates parents to invest in their children could have a major impact on the design of policies to reduce inequality in children’s skill development. Insights from the field of behavioral economics can inform this question.
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Selon des études américaines et réalisées au Canada anglais, les écarts au chapitre du rendement scolaire se creusent durant la période des vacances estivales lorsque les élèves ne fréquentent pas l’école. Néanmoins, les interventions scolaires en littératie peuvent réduire ces écarts. Le présent article présente les résultats d’une étude quasi expérimentale, effectuée dans huit conseils scolaires de district de langue française en Ontario, auprès de 682 élèves de la première à la troisième année en 2010, 2011 et 2012. Nous avons comparé la progression des résultats des tests en lecture de 361 participants aux programmes d’apprentissage pendant l’été à ceux des 321 élèves du groupe témoin entre juin et septembre. Les participants au programme d’apprentissage pendant l’été avaient au départ des résultats en lecture et résultats scolaires plus faibles, et provenaient majoritairement de milieux socio-économiques défavorisés. Néanmoins, les programmes d’apprentissage pendant l’été ont réduit les écarts préexistants entre les deux groupes. L’ampleur de l’effet d’une variété de modèles d’analyses de régression multivariées et de modèles d’appariement des coefficients de propension ont varié de 0,32 à 0,58. Ces résultats représentent un effet considérable dans le contexte de l’éducation au niveau primaire et des études sur les programmes d’apprentissage pendant l’été. Les effets sont plus importants pour les élèves dont les parents ne parlent pas exclusivement le français à la maison. Notre article applique la théorie sur les opportunités d’apprentissage au contexte des élèves dits « non traditionnels » dans les écoles de langue française en Ontario.
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