The effect of parental education on the heritability of children's reading disability

Dec 22, 2008

Parental education is a strong predictor of socioeconomic status and children's educational environment. Nevertheless, some children continue to experience reading failure in spite of high parental education and support for learning to read.

University of Colorado at Boulder psychologists Angela Friend, John C. DeFries and Richard K. Olson examined if genetic and environmental influences on reading disability, the most commonly identified learning disability, interact with level of parental education. In this study, 545 pairs of identical and fraternal twins were selected wherein at least one of the twins in each pair had a reading disability. In addition, the researchers obtained information about the parents' years of education.

The results, described in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, showed that there was a significant interaction between parents' years of education and the heritability of reading disability. Children whose parents had higher levels of education tended to have stronger genetic influence on their reading disability than children whose parents had lower levels of education. The researchers concluded that on average, poor instruction or lack of reading practice may often be the main influence on reading disabilities in families with low socioeconomic status, while genes may be the main influence on reading disability among children in families with high socioeconomic status and educational support.

This study has important implications not only for future genetic research, but for national education policies as well. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires that all children reach "grade level" performance on reading and other academic skills by 2014, and assumes that this goal can be met through appropriate education. However, the authors of this study suggest that a more beneficial policy would acknowledge genetic constraints on meeting these standards among some children with reading disability, and honor the functionally important gains they make in reading and other academic skills even if they do not reach grade level.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Explore further: Intervention program helps prevent high-school dropouts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tablets, cars drive AT&T wireless gains—not phones

2 hours ago

AT&T says it gained 2 million wireless subscribers in the latest quarter, but most were from non-phone services such as tablets and Internet-connected cars. The company is facing pricing pressure from smaller rivals T-Mobile ...

Twitter looks to weave into more mobile apps

2 hours ago

Twitter on Wednesday set out to weave itself into mobile applications with a free "Fabric" platform to help developers build better programs and make more money.

Recommended for you

Intervention program helps prevent high-school dropouts

17 hours ago

New research findings from a team of prevention scientists at Arizona State University demonstrates that a family-focused intervention program for middle-school Mexican American children leads to fewer drop-out rates and ...

Bilingualism over the lifespan

19 hours ago

It's a scene that plays out every day in Montreal. On the bus, in schools, in the office and at home, conversations weave seamlessly back and forth between French and English, or one of the many other languages represented ...

User comments : 0