Children in stepfamilies underachieve on Cito test

16/04/2013 15:00

In 2011, children in primary school group eight had an average Cito (Dutch National Institute for Educational Measurement) score of 536. Boys and girls in high-income families scored above average. Children in stepfamilies underachieved in each income category.

Average Cito score children by household income category, 2011

Average Cito score children by household income category, 2011

Children in higher income households perform better

There is an obvious relation between children’s Cito score and family income. On average, children living in families in the highest income bracket scored nearly 7 points higher than children in the lowest income bracket.

There are several plausible explanations for this phenomenon. Parents with high incomes, for example, are usually better educated. Children whose parents are highly educated will often attend higher education and already perform better at school early in life. High-income families can also spend more money on books and computers; children have their own room and - if necessary - will receive homework help. All this will have a positive effect on their school achievements.

Average Cito score children by family situation, 2011

Average Cito score children by family situation, 2011

Children of divorced parents underachieve on Cito test

There is also a relation between the Cito test result and the family situation of primary-school children. On average, children of divorced parents scored more than 2 points lower on the Cito test than children from intact families. Children living with single fathers constituted an exception: on average, they outperformed children growing up in other divorced families.
 
The lower Cito test results by children living in single-parent families are in fact not caused by the family situation as such, but rather by the lower family income. The incomes of single-parent families are generally lower than the average incomes of two-parent families. Per income category, the Cito test results of children living in single-parent families are almost equal to those of children living in two-parent families.

Average Cito score children living in families in the highest income category, 2011

Average Cito score children living in families in the highest income category, 2011

Children living in high-income stepfamilies also have lower Cito test results

Unlike the lower Cito scores of children in single-parent families, there is no income-related explanation why children in stepfamilies should underachieve. In each income category, their scores were on average lower than those of children from intact families. Stepfamilies are relatively rare: three in every ten children from divorced parents were living in stepfamilies.

Marjolijn Das and Annelie Hakkenes