Don't confuse "predictor" with "determining factor"

In education reform debates, people love to say (and repeat, and repeat) that background/income-level is the top predictor in how a child does in school. And somehow this "predictor" gets confused with "cause." If a child's family background was the CAUSE of the child not doing well in school, well then there's not much we can or need to do about improving schools, do we?

Don't get sucked into this-- when you hear it, know that it's an attempt to divert attention away from the real problems--i.e. the inequities--in our education system. Adults who benefit from the current system, in which it is nearly impossible to fire an ineffective teacher, would like us all to place the blame on low-income children--and their parents--for their lower academic performance.

Here's the truth. Socio-economic level is a PREDICTOR of student achievement because our current education system doesn't serve all students well. If you are a low-income and/or minority student, you are not going to get the same quality of school as a wealthier/white student. This doesn't have to be. The primary FACTOR in how any student does in school-- what really matters -- is the quality of that child's teachers. 


Posted on April 10, 2010 and filed under Education Equality.