There are many ways that the socioeconomic status and education level of parents relates to the cognitive outcomes of their children, and an achievement gap could be seen when schools return to face-to-face learning because of it, according to Pamela Davis-Kean, professor of psychology at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and a research professor at the Institute for Social Research.

In this episode of Michigan Minds, Davis-Kean explains that with schools closed, it falls to parents to provide learning opportunities for their children, but many families are unequipped to do so.

“The achievement gap is defined by socioeconomic differences, and often presents itself in homework,” Davis-Kean says. “Higher-educated parents provide a more enriched learning environment for their children and are more connected to resources. Some people have set times for their kids to do schoolwork. Other kids don’t have that,” she says, adding that since some parents have jobs where they are considered “essential workers,” they may not be home and therefore not available.

Davis-Kean says there is a well-known phenomenon called the “summer achievement gap,” in which children who participate in cognitively stimulating camps or similar activities over the summer have an easier time adjusting back to school in the fall than those who aren’t involved in those types of activities.

Read the full article and listen to the interview at U-M Public Engagement and Impact.