Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Academic Performance

Topics: Social status, Sociology, Education Pages: 12 (4438 words) Published: March 11, 2012
Effects of Socioeconomic Status on Academic Performance

Problem statement
America today faces an issue of epic proportion that is critically essential. An issue that continues to affect her economy, challenge her highest ideals as well as reducing the competitiveness of her workforce, an issue that is deeply rooted her history, her society as well as her culture. The issue in question here is education inequality. This project explores the belief that socioeconomic status is indeed a determinant of one’s educational achievement. A standardized assessment of American students reveals large achievement gaps brought about by socioeconomic status. In 2007, the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) found out that those fifth graders who were eligible for reduced-price and free meals scored lower points in class than their peers from more affluent socioeconomic backgrounds. These persistent disparities, which are of a sizeable magnitude, present serious challenges to education policy makers as well as the educators. It is imperative to note that educational success is not only measured in test scores, but also in final grades, rates of dropping out, college entrance, and completion rates. Although this project mainly focuses on educational inequality in the United States, this is a problem experienced by many other developed countries. The focus on United States, however, is because when compared to other nations of its caliber, the United States invests the most, financially, on education, but achieves lower student performance levels. No matter how the per-pupil spending is increased, the performance levels remain stagnant. Educational inequality has thus presented itself as one of the most fundamental socio-political issues in America. Although there have been many attempts at reforms, and they continue, eradicating educational inequality has proven almost impossible. Socioeconomic status of a family is determined mainly by the occupation of the breadwinners, their income, the highest level of education completed as well as their social status in the community. Thus, students from more affluent families get to benefit from less-stressed parentage, easy and ready access to educational materials as well as other social amenities that may have an effect on their education, i.e. healthcare. On the other hand, students from a low socioeconomic background have limited access to books and other educational materials while at home. They are also likely to suffer greater incidences of family disruption such as domestic violence and/or separation from family. These students have limited opportunities to study with their parents since they are ever busy, implying that less emphasis is put on self-directedness since there is less parental involvement in their education as compare to children from affluent backgrounds. Students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are brought up with child rearing patterns that psychologists have associated with strict and harsh discipline. They are also greatly exposed to aggressive peers and unsecure neighborhoods, they ultimately lack a sense of belonging, and this reflects on their scores. This problem, however, does not begin in school. The harsh reality is that, those children who enter kindergarten without the basic literacy skills fail to catch up to their peers later as they rise through the educational ranks. A survey by National Adult Literacy Survey found that, those kids who have not developed some literary practices by the time they enter school, are four times more likely to drop out of school than kids from more affluent backgrounds. Cognitive development takes place in the earliest years, from birth to age 5, making this the time whereby the child’s brain grows the most. This is a critical period in a child’s life as it sets the stage for the leaning and adult functioning of the brain. Practices such as...
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