Blog: Education by the Numbers

More college educated parents, but their kids are not getting smarter

Here’s another data puzzle I’ve been thinking about. Why is it that more and more kids have college educated parents, but high school test scores are not improving? In 1978, only 32 percent of the parents of 17-year-old students had obtained a college degree. In 2012, 51 percent of the parents of 17 year olds had a college education. That’s a gigantic 59 percent jump in parental education. Why isn’t it making a difference?It’s conventional wisdom that parental education — especially a mother’s education attainment– determines how well a child will do at school. I’ve even heard theories that a grandmother’s highest level of educational attainment is an excellent indicator of how well a child will perform in school. Why isn’t college education making a bigger difference in how we raise our children? Is a college degree no longer a sign of how much a family values education?

Source: See Appendix Table A-2 (p. 56) of NAEP 2012 Trends in Academic Progress

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