The correlation between socioeconomic status and student performance

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Mid Term take Home Exam

Question 1:

The correlation between socioeconomic status and student performance has been consistent for as long as records have been maintained. Students from affluent backgrounds tend to do better in school and on standardized tests than students from economically disadantaged backgrounds. In the following paragraphs, I would like to present two different ways of understanding this pattern. I believe that both socioeconomic and genetic phenomena can be best explained such a persistence of this trend.

First, we can present the biological phenomenon as a way of understanding the pattern. In Schooling in Capitalist America by Bowles and Gintis, the authors stated that there has been a rival of the genetic interpretation of IQ scores. 'An explanation of the failure of egalitarian is thus found in the immutability of genetic structure.'(Bowles and Gintis 22) According to the statistical studies in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and interpretation of the role of IQ in the structure of inequality has been elaborated. The conclusion drawn from the studies explain that the poor are poor due to their intellectual incompetence inherited form their poor and their intellectually deficient parents. However, some of he statistical results of this investigation show that it is a mistake to relate one's family background to socioeconomic differences in measured IQ. Despite the fact that there is a large increase in college enrollments, the probability of a high school graduate attending college is as dependent on parental socioeconomic status as it was thirty years ago. This suggests that the effect is not attributable to the genetic transmission of measured iQ while family background has an important effect on an individual's future economic success.

Secondly, I would like to explain the trend by using examples in Ain't No Makin' It by Jay MacLeod. MacLeod points out that American education system's curricular and evaluative criteria favor the interests of the upper class. To account for the problem of differential academic achievement, we should not totally put the emphasis on the children's families. School also plays a very important role accounting for such a pattern correlated between socioeconomic statues and students' academic performance. It is very crucial for the society to recognize the problem is not that lower class children are inferior. The genuine problem is that these lower class children are being evaluated by the definitions and the standards of the school as deficient or low achieving. For instance, in the interviews with a few high school children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the author found out that subtle class antagonism between students and teachers was at the toot of the problems in academic performance, conduct, truancy, and negative attitudes toward school. One of the Hallway Hangers, Slick, explicitly pointed out that the teachers do not understand their backgrounds.

...but most of the teachers that are up there, a lot of them are too rich, y'know what I mean? They have money, and they don't give a fuck about nobody. They don't know how it's like to hafta come to school late. I had to make sure my brother was in school. I had to make sure certain things--I had to make sure that there was breakfast...(MacLeod 85)

Lacing communication and understanding, most of the teachers do not seem to recognize the fact that some students are from single-parent family.

I believe that such a positive correlation between socioeconomic status and student performance can be explained by the so-called 'standards and definitions' that schools use as a tool to evaluate on students. As mentioned above, students are labeled and characterized in the minds of teachers and others as being of a certain type--high ability, low achieving, bright, dumb, and so on. Students are usually categorized into a certain group based solely on teachers' subjective judgments. For instance,...
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