Addressing Adult Literacy Can “Create a Legacy of Inter-Generational Achievement”

A New Zealand Literacy group is citing research from Australia, of all places, as further evidence that “addressing adult literacy needs has the potential to create a legacy of inter-generational achievement.”

Research published last week in Australia on the effects of positive parental engagement on children’s learning has serious and urgent implications for New Zealand. Literacy Aotearoa is calling for the government to recognise that adult literacy issues affect not just the current generation of adults, but also the educational performance of their children(my emphasis)

The study, ‘Parental engagement in learning and schooling: Lessons from research,’ which was commissioned by the Australian Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau, notes that parental engagement has a positive impact on many indicators of student achievement. These include higher grades and test scores, enrolment in higher level programmes and advanced classes, higher successful completion of classes, lower drop-out rates, higher graduation rates, and a greater likelihood of commencing postsecondary education.

The study references academic research, using economic modelling to examine the impact of parental engagement. The research showed that parental effort has a large effect on student achievement, compared with school resources such as per pupil spending on teaching. That effort improved students’ academic outcomes to levels equivalent to those of students whose parents had received an additional four to six years of education.

The study also references a 2003 report into community and family influences on the education of New Zealand children prepared by the Ministry of Education.

“There are three lessons New Zealand can learn from this research conducted by our near neighbour,” says Te Tumuaki (Chief Executive) of Literacy Aotearoa, Bronwyn Yates. “The first is to confirm just how important parental engagement is. The second is to note the implications for children whose parents, despite their desire to see their children succeed educationally, are less able to positively engage in assisting them because of their own difficulties with literacy, language and numeracy. The third is to recognise the opportunity offered by this pre-Christmas report for government and communities to take urgent steps to address the high literacy needs of adult New Zealanders, as a genuinely change-making investment in families for generations to come.” (my emphasis)