Adoption USA. A Chartbook Based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. Cognitive development and educational achievement

11/01/2009

To assess the cognitive development and educational achievement of children who were adopted, the Chartbook summarizes parents’ reports on four measures for school-age children: reading/language arts performance, math performance, engagement in school, and whether children spend time reading for pleasure. See Appendix Table 9 on page 68 for detailed data on each indicator.

More than half of school-age adopted children have excellent or very good performance in reading and language arts; the same is true for math. Nearly seven out of ten are engaged in school. Furthermore, about eight out of ten adopted children typically spend time reading for pleasure on a daily basis. Among elementary-school-age adopted children ages 6 to 11, about nine out of ten (88 percent) spent time reading for pleasure.

For elementary-school-age children, reading for pleasure is equally likely among adopted children and those in the general population. However, older adopted children ages 12 to 17 are somewhat less likely to have had their parents report that the child spent any time reading for pleasure on an average school day, compared with those in the general population (71 compared with 78 percent, respectively); see Figure 21. Additionally, adopted children are less likely than children in the general population to be engaged in school (69 and 81 percent, respectively); see Figure 22. Parents of children in the general population were not asked about their children’s reading and language arts or math performance.

Figure 21. Percentage of children ages 6-17 who spend any time reading on an average school day, by adoptive status and by child age

Figure 21. Percentage of children ages 6-17 who spend any time reading on an average school day, by adoptive status and by child age

Figure 22. Percentage of children ages 6-17 who are usually or always engaged in school, by adoptive status and by adoption type

Figure 22. Percentage of children ages 6-17 who are usually or always engaged in school, by adoptive status and by adoption type

Children adopted from foster care are somewhat less likely than other adopted children to have excellent or very good performance in reading and language arts and in math, and they are less likely to be engaged in school. Fifty percent of school-age children who had been adopted from foster care had parents who rated their reading and language arts performance as “excellent” or “very good.” Similarly, 41 percent had parents who rated their math performance as “excellent” or “very good”; see Figure 23. This pattern generally holds true regardless of children’s ages. Among 6- to 17-year-olds adopted from foster care, 61 percent are engaged in school, compared with 74 percent of those adopted privately from the United States and 73 percent of those adopted internationally. However, reading for pleasure is equally likely for all three types of adoptions among school-age children, both for those of elementary school age (6 to 11 years) and for older children (ages 12 to 17).

Figure 23. Percentage of adopted children ages 5-17 whose parents rated their school performance as “excellent” or “very good” by adoption type

Figure 23. Percentage of adopted children ages 5-17 whose parents rated their school performance as “excellent” or “very good” by adoption type

 

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT MEASURES

Reading and language arts performance: For this measure, we compared the percentage of children ages 5 to 17 whose parents rated their “school performance in reading and language arts” as “excellent” or “very good,” rather than “good,” “fair,” or “poor.”

Math performance: For this measure, parents of children ages 5 to 17 rated their child’s “school performance in math.” Response options and groupings were the same as with reading and language arts performance.

Usually/always engaged in school: School engagement was assessed based on parents’ responses about how frequently during the prior month children ages 6 to 17 “care[d] about doing well in school” and “[did] all required homework.” Children whose parents answered “usually” or “always” to both questions were classified as being engaged in school.

Reading for pleasure: For this indicator, we identified whether parents who responded to the question, “On an average weekday, about how much time does [he/she] usually spend reading for pleasure?” reported that their child, age 6 to 17, spent any time reading.

 

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