Early Interventions for the Achievement Gap: The Importance of Family in Early Learning

This report examines the role of family background and parental involvement in determining early learning outcomes of children in kindergarten and reveals that students who attended more structured preschool settings, like Head Start or other center-based programs, performed better on early reading and math tests. The study also suggests that to a large extent, a child’s language and literacy development are shaped within the home as opposed to in a formal school setting and are strongly influenced by the parent’s level of education and the number of siblings in the household. Finally, this report shows that among children who attended Head Start before entering kindergarten, those whose parents did not read to them at all scored significantly lower on reading tests than students whose parents did read to them. Consistent with the findings of this report, the National Urban League’s policy recommendations for improving education in America include mandatory early childhood education beginning at age 3; the creation and implementation of policies that encourage, rather than penalize, additional education and skills attainment for adults; and increased support for parental engagement in student learning at home and in schools.

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