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Low Socioeconomic Status and Academic Achievement

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    Low Socioeconomic Status and Academic Achievement  Introduction According to the United States Bureau of Census, the most recent poverty rates of children are higher than they ever were.

      A large percentage of children in the classroom are coming from low socioeconomic households.  And, a huge amount of research has shown that a child’s socioeconomic status affects his or her intelligence level as well as academic achievement (Milne and Plourde, 2006).  K. Vail (2004) writes that children from high poverty environments “enter school less ready to learn, and they lag behind their more-affluent classmates in their ability to use language to solve problems” (p.

    12).  What is more, children’s socioeconomic status has been found to affect their consistency of attending academic institutions, in addition to the number of formal education years they eventually complete.  Many researchers believe that there is a positive correlation between socioeconomic status and academic achievement.  Still, G.

    P. Caldwell and D. W. Ginther (1996) have reported that “While low-SES is highly correlated with low achievement, some low-SES students are academically successful” (p.

    142).  Hence, there are discrepancies within the correlations between socioeconomic status and academic achievement.In this research paper we seek to understand the reason for the discrepancies within the correlations between socioeconomic status and academic achievement.  In other words, what are the factors that make one student from a low socioeconomic household successful in school, as compared to another from a low socioeconomic household who is unsuccessful in the classroom? LOW SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT                                                                                                  Page # 2  According to V.

    Molfese, L. Dilalla, and D. Bunce (1997), the home environment is the single most significant predictor of differences in children’s intelligence between the ages of 3 and 8.  Seeing that the home environment is the first learning environment for every child, this paper would delve into the differences between home environments reflected in the academic achievements of children from low socioeconomic households.

      We would first review research on the home environment of children with poor academic performance before we review a study in which children from low socioeconomic households actually excelled in school.  The differences between these two groups of children from low socioeconomic households, that is, the poor academic performers versus the high academic achievers, would make clear that factors outside school are in fact affecting children from low socioeconomic households.  This paper would identify some of these essential factors affecting academic achievement.  Low Socioeconomic Status and Poor Academic Performance Children from low socioeconomic households have to endure trials as well as unpleasant circumstances.

      According to R. H. Bradley and R. F.

    Corwyn (2002), “Capital (resources, assets) has become a favored way of thinking about SES because access to financial capital (material resources), human capital (nonmaterial resources such as education), and social capital (resources achieved through social connections) are readily connectable to processes that directly affect well-being” (p. 371).  With a general lack of financial resources in the household, a child’sLOW SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT                                                                                                  Page # 3  sense of well-being will be adversely affected.  This child would have less access to educational resources as compared to his or her peers from high socioeconomic households.

      Moreover, the child from the low socioeconomic household would have fewer opportunities to visit local libraries or museums to stimulate the intellect.Similarly, R. Constantino (2005) has found that children from low socioeconomic households have fewer books at home than do children from high socioeconomic families.  Furthermore, children from low socioeconomic families tend to live in overcrowded homes where they have less time to spend with their parents, especially their mothers, who would talk to them to intellectually stimulate them, and teach them the basics required for school attendance.

      Also according to Bradley and Corwyn, children in low socioeconomic households are given fewer (if any) reading books or workbooks.  Parents in these households do not encourage their children to talk to them, and neither do they regulate the television watching of their children.Researchers have further looked into changes in family structure in low socioeconomic households with respect to the academic achievement of children that are brought up in these households.  Countless low socioeconomic families are known to break up because of frustrations caused by a general lack of capital.

      B. Ram and F. Hou (2003) have found that the marital conflict of parents leads to less involvement in their children’s academic activities and inconsistencies in their supervision styles.  Moreover, “There is evidence to suggest that lone parents make fewer demands on children, do not adequately monitor their behavior, and utilize less effective disciplinary strategies” (p.

    311).  Parents in low socioeconomic households also spend more time in the workplace as compared to parents in high socioeconomic households. LOW SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT                                                                                                  Page # 4  Less time devoted to children, as in the case of parents in low socioeconomic families, has a negative effect on the academic performance of their children.  Low Socioeconomic Status and High Academic Achievement In a groundbreaking ethnographic study, Allison Milne and Lee A.

    Plourde discovered that children from low socioeconomic households who do well at school have parents who make sure that their children have educational materials available at home.  All low socioeconomic families with children who are high achievers at school have books and writing materials for their children at home, even if these families have to rely on support systems to supply them with the educational materials.  What is more, these families have time allotted every day for their children to engage in academic activities, including homework, with their parents’ participation.  These families also believe in monitoring the use of television by their children.

    Although some of the low socioeconomic families in Milne and Plourde’s study had been broken too by discord, their children were doing well at school because their families believed in “support systems.”  These families often mentioned, “We do everything together.”  The parents in these households – even if they were single – ensured that they would spend quality time with their children even if they had to spend longer hours in the workplace.  Additionally, they considered their children a part of their “team.

    ”  In other words, they believed in being friends with their offspring.LOW SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT                                                                                                  Page # 5  All of the mothers in this study had at least completed tenth grade in school, and expressed that they would like their children to know the importance of education too.  The parents of these children openly talked about the importance of education with their children.  Finally, they all agreed that they did not want their children to believe that schooling was an option.

      Rather, education was considered a necessity in these homes.  Conclusion Schooling is truly not an option; and the fact that the parents in Allison and Plourde’s study taught the importance of education to their children reveals that these parents knew the importance of schooling from their own experiences in academic institutions.  Moreover, these parents had values to teach their children, as compared to those parents who did not value education in the home.Although Allison and Plourde’s study is crucial because it describes the reasons for the high academic academic achievement of children from low socioeconomic households, this study included only six such families.

      More research on high academic achievers from low socioeconomic households will expand our knowledge base in the area.As far as the remaining studies mentioned in this paper are concerned, it has been made clear that children from low socioeconomic households often have parents that are disinterested in their education.  However, these studies leave out another important characteristic of lowLOW SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT                                                                                                  Page # 6  socioeconomic households: abuse.  As a matter of fact, abuse in low socioeconomic households is quite common because financial problems are often a cause of frustrations and emotional breakdowns in which children get involved.

      These children are emotionally, physically, and often sexually abused.  Parents in these households lack the sense of values that parents in Allison and Plourde’s study appeared to have.  Moreover, the parents who abuse their children are typically known also to abuse substances.  Spousal abuse and all forms of domestic abuse must have a negative effect on children’s education.

      Even so, the studies mentioned in this paper do not include abuse as one of the environmental factors affecting children’s education.In conclusion, we have to claim that low socioeconomic households do not necessarily bring up children who are poor academic performers.  Rather, it depends on the home environment of each child coming from a low socioeconomic household.  Children with educated parents who show support for their children’s educational activities, are most likely to do well in school.

      Children who have parents that do not take interest in their education, are most likely to perform poorly in the classroom.     LOW SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT                                                                                                  Page # 7  References 1.      Bradley, R. H.

    & Corwyn, R. F. (2002). Socioeconomic status and child development.

    Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 371-400. 2.      Caldwell, G. P.

    & Ginther, D. W. (1996). Differences in learning styles of low socioeconomic status for low and high achievers.

    Education, 117, 141-148. 3.      Constantino, R. (2005).

    Print environments between high and low socioeconomic (ses) communities. Teacher Librarian, 32, 22-26. 4.      Milne, Allison & Plourde, Lee A.

    (2006, September). Factors of a Low-SES Household: What Aids Academic Achievement? Journal of Instructional Psychology.     LOW SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT                                                                                                  Page # 8  5.      Molfese, V.

    , Dilalla, L., & Bunce, D. (1997). Prediction of the intelligence test scores of 3- to 8-year-old children by home environment, socioeconomic status, and biomedical risks.

    Merril-Palmer Quarterly, 43, 219-234. 6.      Ram, B. & Hou, F.

    (2003). Changes in family structure and child outcome: Roles of economic and familial resources. Policy Studies Journal, 31, 309. 7.

          Vail, K. (2004). Grasping what kids need to raise performance. The Education Digest, 69, 12-25.     

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