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What Determines A Child's Academic Success

What Determines A Child's Academic Success

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What determines a child's future in academics? It turns out, it depends on who you ask. Research on the matter has been anything but conclusive. Below you'll find the most prevailing points of view and their accompanying research. 

Father's level of education

According to a report from the Office for National Statistics, based in the U.K., a father's level of education is the biggest determining factor for a child's future life chances. Children are 7 1/2 times less likely to be an academic success if their father had a subpar academic performance compared with children whose fathers are highly educated. 

According to the report, a mother's education was also a factor, but to a lesser extent. Children were approximately 3 times less likely to be academically successful if their mothers did not succeed in academics.

Parent's income

According to a Stanford research paper, the achievement gap between higher and lower-income families is roughly 30% to 40% larger among children born in 2001 than those born in 1976.

A report from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Russell Sage Foundation on "Economic Mobility" also states parent's income as the largest factor in determining a child's future earnings. 


Where a child grows up is a significant predictor of a child's academic outcome, according to Paul Tough, who is the author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character "That is especially true of low-income neighborhoods," says Tough.

Parent's expectations

A United States survey of 6,600 children born in 2001 conducted by Neal Halfon of UCLA finds a correlation between parent's expectations and children's standardized test scores.

Among poor test performers - 57% of children were expected to attend college, while among high test performers - 97% of children were expected to attend college. 

This finding aligns with the psychological phenomenon the Pygmalion effect, were higher expectations lead to an increase in performance. 

Parenting Style

Children who receive positive attention and care from their parents have high incomes, high happiness levels, and a strong sense of morality in addition to academic success, according to survey findings from Kobe University in Japan.

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