As someone fortunate enough to live in one of the more affluent suburbs of Boston, I must admit a certain smug pride in the well above average scores the town’s students achieve on the state-wide MCAS (Mass. Comprehensive Assessment system) tests every year. Their performance on these tests helps ease the pain (somewhat) of the huge portion of my property tax bill that goes to funding the local school. But hey, the better the school and the better the teachers, the better the education. Right? Well, according to a study from the UK, reported in the Feb. 28 issue of the Guardian, maybe not.
A study by academics at University College London (UCL) and Kings College London has given statistical backbone to the view that the overwhelming factor in how well children do is not what type of school they attend- but social class.
The report, which uses previously unreleased information from the Department for Education and Skills, matches almost 1 million pupils with their individual postcode and exam scores at ages 11 and 15. This unprecedented project has revealed that a child’s social background is the crucial factor in academic performance, and that a school’s success is based not on its teachers, the way it is run, or what type of school it is, but, overwhelmingly, on the class background of its pupils.
The study found that, whatever their background, children do better the more “middle-class” the school they attend, and also that more than 50% of a school’s performance is accounted for by the social make-up of its pupils.
Put simply, the more middle-class the pupils, the better they do. The more middle-class children there are at the school, the better it does. It is proof that class still rules the classroom.