Much prior research indicates that youngsters from single-parent families face a greater risk of poor schooling outcomes compared to their peers from two-parent households. A recent study from the Institute for Family Studies at the University of Virginia adds to this evidence using data from Ohio.
Authors Nicholas Zill and W. Bradford Wilcox examine parent survey data from the National Survey of Children’s Health. This dataset contains information on 1,340 Ohio youngsters—a small but representative sample. The outcomes Zill and Wilcox examine are threefold: 1) whether the parent had been contacted at least once by their child’s school for behavioral or academic problems; 2) whether the child has had to repeat a grade; and 3) a parent’s perception of their child’s engagement in schoolwork.
The upshot: Buckeye children from married, two-parent households fare better on schooling outcomes, even after controlling for race/ethnicity, parental education, and income. Compared to youngsters from non-intact families, children with married parents were about half as likely to have been contacted by their school or to have repeated a grade. They were also more likely to be engaged in their schoolwork, though that result was not statistically significant.
An estimated 895,000 children in Ohio live in a single-parent household, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Each of them may feel the same love and affection as their peers from married families, but the stark reality, as indicated by study after study, is that on average, they face disadvantages manifested in lower schooling outcomes. The challenge for schools is to help all of their students—including ones from single-parent families—to beat the odds.
Source: Nicholas Zill and W. Bradford Wilcox, Strong Families, Successful Students (Institute for Family Studies).