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Parental Education Effects the Heritability of Children’s Learning Disability

Study shows that in families with high levels of education, reading disabilities are more likely to be caused by heredity than environment.

Tuesday December 23rd - 2:58pm

Filed Under: Learning Disabilities

There is a significant interaction between parents' years of education and the heritability of a reading disability, according to new research from the University of Colorado at Boulder, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Researchers have previously noted that parental education is a strong predictor of children’s educational environment. Nevertheless, some children continue to experience reading failure in spite of high parental education and support for learning to read.

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.

Read more about the study at the Association for Psychological Science.

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