Does Nature, Nurture, Or Affluence Create The Better Student?

An inquiring mind asks is it nature or nurture that creates the better student?

Clancey Denis, Judy Naegeli, Alexandra Notman, and Mary Pritchard in December 2010 SeattleMet article Grading Our High Schools page 74 of the print edition, relate that 90% of the Mercer Island High School students graduate, and have combined SAT score of 1812, which is math, writing and critical reading of 630, 586, and 596. CLR Search Lifestyle Segmentation for Mercer Island, WA, 98040 shows affluent; in fact, Mongabay ranked Mercer Island the #35 richest zip code in America in 2009.

In contrast, page 76 of the report relates that 84% of Foster High School students living in Tukwila graduate, and have a combine SAT score of 1326, which is math, writing and critical reading of 468, 424 and 434. CLR Search Lifestyle Segmentation for Burien, WA 98168,  shows as not affluent.

Zillow relates that two thpes of families live here: 1) Urban Power Families (High-income couples with children) those with six-figure salaried couples with children who live an upscale life in a metro center. Highly educated professionals working in finance, medical, and high-tech fields. and 2 Corporate Climbers (High-income, high-expense urban singles) those urban singles with an up-and-coming income, but with higher-than-average living costs. Most have college educations and are employed in mid-management professions. These two types ar out of 66 Prizm Claritas Segments

So I ask two questions.

First: Is it genetics, nurture, or affluence that produced the students with the high combined SAT scores.

Wikipedia relates the following on test score disparity by income: Recent research has linked high family incomes to higher mean scores. Test score data from California has shown that test-takers with family incomes of less than $20,000 a year had a mean score of 1310 while test-takers with family incomes of over $200,000 had a mean score of 1715, a difference of 405 points. The estimates of correlation of SAT scores and household income range from 0.23 to 0.4 (explaining about 5-16% of the variation) [38]. One calculation has shown a 40-point average score increase for every additional $20,000 in income.[39] There are conflicting opinions on the source of this correlation. Some think it is evidence of superior education and tutoring that is accessible to the more affluent adolescents, others consider it evidence of the heritability of intelligence and positive correlation between intelligence and income.

I believe that SAT score outcome is determined by a number of factors:

1)  the interest shown by parents in children’s leaning

2)  the the critical thinking and writing and communication skills and social skills learned and used by the child.

3) the reward accessible by the child.

4) parents are prorfessionals not joe sixpacks.

5) the children like in a resourceful village where education is the norm and not in an urban jungle where dropping out is the norm.

6) parents are educated

7) community has educational resources. The child is not exposed to Southpark entertainment videos.

8) The May 6, 2010 study by University of Wisconsin Center for Demography and Ecology Working Paper: “The Legacy of Disadvantage: Multigenerational Neighborhood Effects on Cognitive Ability,” by Patrick Sharkey and Felix Elwert reports: Being raised in a high-poverty neighborhood in one generation has a substantial negative effect on child cognitive ability in the next generation. A family’s exposure to neighborhood poverty across two consecutive generations reduces child cognitive ability by more than half a standard deviation

9) parents and teachers maintain both clean living and and order. It’s just an observation, but Mercer Island like many others, which have high scoring SAT scores have a religion, whether it be Jewish or Christian, and are part of a religious community; this leads to rejection of worldly living an embracing learning something which takes one’s SAT score up.

Stephen Sawchuk In Education Week article Gates Study Offers Teacher-Effectiveness Clues reports on analysis released by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The findings are part of the Seattle-based foundation’s $45 million Measure of Effective Teaching study. The project seeks to identify the most accurate measures of superior teaching. (“Multi-City Study Eyes Best Gauges of Good Teaching,” Sept. 2, 2009.)

If there is order, then the child has better test scores. The study continues:  “Student perceptions of teachers’ ability to manage a classroom and provide challenging academic content were strongly linked to those teachers’ ability to raise scores. One of the study’s findings appears to challenge the conventional wisdom that teachers can boost scores by “teaching to the test.” Here in Washington State there has been a big push to teach to the WASL test, it has proven to be counter productive, in fact is has been a disaster.

The report continues: “The analysis found that the value-added estimates of teacher effectiveness held up even when students were given supplemental tests with harder tasks than those on the state tests, including conceptual questions and open-ended writing tasks. Meanwhile, student reports of classes spent heavily on test preparation were generally weak predictors of teachers’ ability to raise scores.”

Second question: Is it fair that some get the silver spoon, and others do not?  Some were appointed to live in wealth and others not. It was by God’s choosing to produce some to live in wealth and others not to live in wealth. The bible clearly communicates that all things are of God (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

Michael J. Weiss writes of The Clustered World These lifestyles represent America’s modern tribes, sixty-two distinct population groups each with its own set of values, culture, and means of coping with today’s problems. A generation ago, Americans thought of themselves as city dwellers, suburbanites, or country folk. But we are no longer that simple, and our neighborhoods reflect our growing complexity. Clusters, which were created to identify demographically similar zip codes around the U.S., are now used to demarcate a variety of small geographic areas, including census tracts (500-1,000 households) and zip plus 4 postal codes (about ten households). Once used interchangeably with neighborhood type, however, the term cluster now refers to population segments where, thanks to technological advancements, no physical contact is required for cluster membership. The residents of Pools & Patios, a cluster of upper-middle-class suburban couples, congregate in La Crescenta, California, and Rockville, Maryland, but they also can be found on one block in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and in a few households in Portland, Maine

The 14 Claritas Nielsen PRIZM classes of lifestyle segments;  and the 66 Claritas Nielsen PRIZM geo-demographic segments of the United States 

1) Urban Uptown 5

2) Midtown Mix 3

3) Urban Core 4 has Big City Blues and Low Rise Living

4) Elite Suburbs 4

5) The Affluentials 6

6) Middleburbs 5

7) Inner Suburbs 4

8) 2nd City Society 3

9) City Center 3

10) Micro City Blues 5

11) Landed Gentry 5

12) Country Comfort 5

13) Middle America 6

14) Rustic Living 5

My final thought is that if one has “got the smarts”, then one will be praising God for His Goodness.


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