It is worrying that in today’s NZ Herald Hekia Parata again conflates poverty and socio-economic status, and to further confuse matters throws in decile ratings as if the three things are the same. They are not.
Either she doesn’t know the differences or she chooses to ignore them, and I’m not sure which. Either way, she continues to mislead to public.
The Difference Between Socio-Economic Status and Poverty
Socio-economic status is far more complex than poverty. SES takes into consideration a far wider set of factors such as parents’ education achievements, occupation, social status, neighbourhood and so on.
Researchers looking at the impact of SES on student achievement will look at such things as how many books a home has in it, what art work it has, whether there is a desk to work at, how many parents there are, even considering matters such as mental health, birth weight and drug habits.
SES is not merely about income. SES is not the same as poverty.
Expert Opinion on the Impact of Socio Economic Status on a Student’s Educational Success
The 18% in the early part of the PISA report that Parata likes to quote actually refers to the effects of poverty alone – not socio-economic status. Remember, they are not the same thing. The same report she misquotes goes on to say that the impact of socio-economic status is around 75%. That is in stark contrast to Parata’s assertions, is it not?
Stephen Machin, in his 2006 OECD report on Social Disadvantage and Educational Experiences, notes:
“The evidence from empirical research is that education and social disadvantage are closely connected and that people from less advantaged family backgrounds acquire significantly less education than their more advantaged counterparts.
This translates into significantly reduced life chances as individuals’ economic and social outcomes as adults are significantly hampered by lower education levels owing to social disadvantage.”
The fact is, whilst teacher quality is a big *in-school* factor for student success, the out-of-school factors – the socio-economic factors impacting the student every single day – have by far the biggest impact overall.
And if we are not addressing those adequately, we are merely tinkering at the edges.
~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ
Sources and further reading:
Hekia Parata: Socio-economic factors are often overstated, NZ Herald, 6/11/15