Students’ Household Characteristics

Characteristics of a student’s household influence many aspects of students’ lives as well as being a place where much essential learning occurs. Considerable research has demonstrated the power of household, family, and parental characteristics to influence children’s development. SEELS will need to describe the households of students with disabilities and link household characteristics to a range of student outcomes. Some characteristics for the task force’s consideration include: composition (size, configuration, siblings or relatives with disabilities), socioeconomic status, education level, parental involvement in school/education, and parental expectations for the child’s future (Table 9).

Table 9

Potential Research Questions — Household Characteristics


Descriptive Questions

What is the composition of households in which students in special education live?

Do other family members of students in special education have disabilities?

What is the marital status of parents/guardians?

What is the educational background of parent(s)/guardian(s)? Their current educational activities?

What is the employment status of parent(s)/guardian(s)?

What is the household’s socioeconomic status? Do they receive benefits from public assistance programs?

What is the household’s experience with welfare reform? I.e., did they previously receive TANF benefits and now no longer receive them? Why? Did the student previously receive SSI benefits and now no longer receives them? Why?

What is the household’s housing arrangement? How adequate is it?

What expectations do parents have for their children’s future?

What is the impact on the household of having a child with a disability? (I.e., are family outcomes of interest, in addition to student outcomes?)

Comparative & Explanatory Questions

How do household characteristics vary among disability categories and for students with different demographic characteristics?

How do household characteristics change over time?

How do household characteristics correlate with features of students’ school programs and non-school experiences?

What household characteristics correlate with better outcomes?