Have you read to your kids today?

I’d just like to take this moment – the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and just before my scattered adult kids return home – to thank my husband, who despite a busy job and huge demands on his time, read to our children for about 45 minutes every night from pre-school through high school.

So what brought this on?

Commentators on this blog have had a lot to say about parents, much of it frustrated, even angry. My own experience – as a teacher – with parents has been mostly very positive. Still, I thought I’d share a little ammunition with teachers who complain that parents also need to do their part to improve education.

Today’s New York Times op-ed by Thomas Friedman reports on the PISA tests (Program for International Student Assessment) carried out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. These are the tests that keep revealing how weak American students are, especially in math, compared to their peers around the world.

But that’s not where I’m going today. As Friedman reports, “to better understand why some students thrive taking the PISA tests and others do not, Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the exams for the O.E.C.D., was encouraged by the O.E.C.D. countries to look beyond the classrooms. So starting with four countries in 2006, and then adding 14 more in 2009, the PISA team went to the parents of 5,000 students and interviewed them ‘about how they raised their kids and then compared that with the test results’ for each of those years.

The findings? “‘Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all. The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family’s socioeconomic background. Parents’ engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA.'”

I still don’t think this takes teachers off the hook. But the findings should challenge a lot of parents.

Here’s a link to the New York Times article.

And here’s a link to the PISA study.

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