“Blog de la liberté scolaire” : Could you introduice briefly yourself and your work on educational issues ?
William H. Jeynes : I am a Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey and a Professor of Education at California State University in Long Beach, California. I am a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago. I address educational issues using quantitative analysis and historical research. I analyze data on some of the most important educational, family, and economic issues in contemporary society. I have been humbled and blessed that my work has gained the attention of the U.S. government, so that I have spoken on the results of this research for the White House and various U.S. government departments. I have also spoken before both Chinese and South Korean government officials.
You have written a book last year on the influence of parental involvement on the educational outcomes of students. Could you present your method (meta-analysis) and your main conclusions ?
I use a meta-analytic approach to conducting the research. A meta-analysis statistically combines all the relevant existing studies on a given subject in order to determine the aggregated results of said research. That is, what this approach does is statistically combine all of the studies that have been done on a particular topic to determine what the overall body of research indicates. As you might imagine, because of the vast nature of the undertaking, a meta-analysis generally takes 2-3 years to complete.
Nevertheless, because a meta-analysis statistically summarizes the existing body of research, they tend to be widely read and cited. Some of the highlights of the findings include:
1) parental involvement is associated with much higher academic outcomes among children than in situations in which parents are not highly engaged. The difference tends to average about .75 of a grade point (on a 4.0 scale).
2) Subtle forms of parental involvement such as parental expectations, positive communication between parents and children, and parental style (a combination of providing structure and a loving environment) have considerably stronger relationships with the scholastic outcomes of youth than do more overt expressions of involvement such as attending school functions and volunteering at school.
You have made other meta-analysis about the key-factors of educational outcomes of students. Could you summarize also your conclusions?
Yes, I have conducted numerous meta-analyses on a variety of topics. The results of some of them include:
1) Students high in Bible literacy achieve at academic levels that at much higher than those low in Bible literacy. The difference works out to be approximately equivalent to one letter grade.
2) Students who come from two biological parent households did far better in school, on average, than their counterparts from non-traditional parental family structures. The overall trend is that the farther one goes from a two biological parent family structure, the more than as a negative impact on children’s achievement.
3) The two variables that most consistently reduce the racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps are student religious commitment and family factors, such as family structure and parental involvement. 4) Students who attend Christian schools achieve at higher scholastic levels than their counterparts in either traditional public schools or public charter schools.
What would be the ideal education system ?
The ideal education system would value spiritual training, character education, and academic achievement. Schooling should not merely be about educating the mind. Historically, from the days of Plato until very recently, teachers believed that spiritual and character instruction wer of even greater importance than academic preparation. Cicero and Martin Luther King both agreed that the most dangerous person in the world is someone who is intelligent, but nevertheless lacks character. Even though these two peoples’ lives were separated by almost two centuries, they agreed on this very important point. In the eleven years since 9/11, almost no one called Osama Bin Laden “stupid,” but few would want him over to their home as a dinner guest. Almost no one doubts that Osama bin Laden was a very intelligent man, but he was not a man of love and character.
I think it is safe to say that most of the problems we have in the world today are spiritual and character problems. One can even argue that much of the economic crisis in the world today is due to immorality. The ideal schooling system should not only address intellectual training, but also attempt to prepare people to function effectively in a civil society.
What’s the purpose of an education system ?
The purpose of an education system should be to prepare an individual to be a loving, compassionate, intelligent, and civicallly-minded citizen.
Do systems with a high level of school choice and freedom of education perform better than others education system ?
There is evidence at the level of higher education that schooling systems that have higher levels of choice have stronger academic outcomes. The evidence is quite strong that more intense levels competition leads to higher scholastic outcomes. The evidence is strong greatly because of the large number of university systems with advanced systems of choice. Due to:
First, the comparatively small percentage of nations that have high levels of choice and secondly, the variety of factors that influence elementary- and secondary-school achievement, the evidence is less clear for these grade levels.