Investigating the Connection Between Low Ses, Criminal Behavior and Low Self-Efficacy and Achivement of African American Students

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Bernadette Harris
EDF 6480
Research Study
Assignment 1

Investigating Connections between Low Self-Efficacy, Low Academic Performance and Future Behavioral Problems of Low SES Students


Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds are entering schools with very low self-efficacy which is leading to poor academic achievement. Many of these students later develop behavioral problems of increasing severity, leading to dismal prognoses for their future. As a result, they become frustrated and develop external behavioral problems, often increasing in severity and leading to criminal activity.

Researchers have conducted many studies on the constraints of poverty on high achievement (Burney & Beilke, 2008) beginning in elementary schools and continuing throughout high school and beyond. As early as first grade, low reading achievement has been linked to visible outward behavioral problems as soon as two years later (Morgan, Farkas, Tufis & Sperling, 2008) in students from low socioeconomic backgrounds attending urban schools.

Direct connections have been established by extensive research (Austin, 1978; Crockett, Eggebeen and Hawkins, 1993) between juvenile behavioral problems in school and later criminal activity.

This raises the question to examine whether educators in urban school environments can improve these students’ future prognoses using conventional methods. It seems that the probability of our at risk student populations is pointed toward criminal activity and violence, and thereby threatens not only their futures, but the future of our society. This should be investigated further in an effort to address and support the underlying causes of all three factors, together in the whole child rather than separately or exclusively of each other. We must investigate whether students from low socioeconomic status with low self efficacy in elementary school, later choose criminal behaviors that result in them entering the juvenile justice system. As such, if we find a relationship between the variables, we must conduct further study to address a means of implementing a comprehensive intervention plan to raise self-efficacy and academic achievement, as well as treat any psychological and developmental impairments in the child.

Educational experts have cited the lack of academic parental support in most urban school populations across America (Payne, 1996), due to parents’ perceived lack of ability to help their child, lack of education on the part of the parent, single parent work schedules often extending into after school and evening hours, as well as several others. As a result, educators have implemented instructional techniques to afford such students more opportunities to receive academic assistance in the classroom or in after school programs, or have limited student homework load and accountability. This only addresses part of the problem, and in fact lowers rather than “raises the bar” of academic performance!

Urban schools have many strict behavioral programs and policies in place to address external behavioral problems in the classrooms, such as after school detention, dean referrals, suspensions, etc. These also deal with one isolated piece of the problem, rather than investigating the entirety of the profile of the student. Even those who are referred further to school guidance counselors receive their advocacy from separate entities (academic help from the teacher, discipline from the administration, and advice form the counselor.)

It seems to be a rare, if not nonexistent practice, for all members intervening with these students to create a collaborative action plan in supporting the student’s self-efficacy, academic deficiencies and behavioral issues as the collective and interwoven facets of the whole student.

Research indicates that children who demonstrate negative disciplinary behaviors during...
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