Students with cable TV at home 'do worse in exams'
If you want your children to do well in exams, cut off the premium cable TV package and reduce the numbers of sets in the house.
That's the lesson from a new study which shows a big difference in test results for students who have a premium package at home and those who don't have any such package on their television.
More than 4,500 Irish 15-year-olds took a science test as part of an international study. It shows that those with a premium cable TV package at home obtained an average of 498.9 points on the test, while those with no premium package scored 527.5 points.
The study also shows that the more televisions in the home, the worse the student does in tests.
For instance, a student with one television in the home obtained 31 more points than a student from a home with three or more sets.
But the difference is greatest when you compare the results for students with only one television set at home and those with a premium package -- the former got almost 64 more points on their test.
The same results apply for tests in mathematics and reading. The tests were carried out as part of the the OECD's 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment. The results for Ireland have been analysed in a book called 'Ready for Tomorrow's World' which will be published today.
One of the three authors, Rachel Cunningham, from the Educational Research Centre, suggested that Celtic Tiger parents were not spending their new found wealth on educational aids for their children.
"There has been a big increase in material resources in the average Irish family home, but we are still far below average when it comes to educational and cultural resources in homes.
"Money is more likely to be spent on premium cable TV packages than on books, despite so many studies showing the importance of books in the home. Every child's bedroom should have a study desk and a bookshelf, ideally filling the space where the television is now," she said.
The OECD study found that one-in-10 Irish students have between zero and 10 books in their home, while, at the other extreme, almost 9pc have more than 500.
Irish students most commonly said that they had between 26 and 100 books. Students with no more than 10 books averaged 434 on the science test, while those with more than 500 averaged 551 on the test.
Irish students were above the OECD average on almost all of the 'affluence indicators' such as mobile phones, cars and dishwashers, but came only 21st out of 30 countries in terms of the availability of educational resources in the home and even worse, 26th place out of 30, on an index of cultural possessions in the home.