Header Ads Widget

Your Advertisement Here

How economic class can affect children’s education

I've been reading Catherine Gewertz' post in Education Week and reminds of my Doctoral thesis I'd written a few years ago precisely about the impact of the family income in the learning process. The conclusions were almost the same but the difference is that our study was conducted in our mother country and now this study has been made in the United States.

The study conducted by Joshua S. Wyner, John M. Br idgeland & John J. Di Iulio, Jr. under the title of Achieventrap (pdf) analyses data of 3.4 million k-12 children in American schools. They've found that children who come from households with incomes below the national median had score in the top quartile on nationally normed tests. They start school with weaker academic skills and are less likely to flourish over the years in school than their peers from better income families.

Civic Enterprises LLC, a Washington-based research and public-policy group, and the Lansdowne, Va.-based Jack Kent Cooke Foundation establishes that higher-achieving children from lower-income families enter school with a disadvantage that shows up in their national test scores. More than 70 percent of 1st graders who score in the top quartile are from higher-income families, and fewer than three in 10 are from lower-income families.

In the ensuing years Catherine writes, the higher-achieving lower-income children are more likely to lose ground, 44 percent fall out of the top quartile in reading between the 1st and 5th grades, compared with 31 percent of high achievers whose family income is above the national median ($48,200 in 2006). They are also more likely to drop out of high school or not graduate on time than those from economically better economically positioned families. The difference persists through college and graduate school, with lower-income students less likely to attend the most selective colleges or to graduate.

However, the report does offer some optimistic notes. "Of the higher-achieving students, it says, 93 percent of those from lower-income families, and 97 percent of those from higher-income families, graduate from high school in four years. Those rates are much better than the 70 percent of all students on average that researchers estimate get their diplomas on time. But the data still show too many 'unrelenting inequities' that harm the prospects of capable children from lower-income families."

They -the authors, even say that Asian students perform better than Africa-American kids (not mention of Hispanic students) but Hewertz brings into discussion to Michelle M. Fine, a professor of social psychology and urban education at the City University of New York who says: "Something is clearly working for those lower-income Asian kids that isn’t working for the lower-income black kids".

Post a Comment


  1. I was one of these kids, except we were lucky to live in a very good school district. The difference didn't start to show up until college--an Ivy. The few differences in treatment I could observe in high school only made me more determined to compete.

    The problem was the transition from the Carter administration to the Reagan administration's cuts for federal funding of higher education. There was a more subtle transition as well, in that the kinds of people succeeding in the administration responsible for financial aid had, too, taken a hard shift to the right.

    They just didn't give a stuff. There was a practice certain families had of generating false debts so they could maximize their kids' financial aid package. Whereas my family was genuinely poor, and also genuinely abusive and dysfunctional to the point that GOOD LUCK getting your parents to fill out the financial aid forms year after year! When I mentioned the nature of the fraud to the administration that several of my "friends" admitted to committing on their financial aid package, the response I got was "So What? It just means we're more likely to be funding the kids that will be able to afford to finish! Financial aid for the students that actually need it is just throwing good money after bad!"

    This was a pretty big slap. It's been more than 25 years, and I still remember it like it was yesterday.

    I won't say that all college administrators are so insensitive, but it only takes one incident like that to really discourage you. I continued to do well, but was no longer under the illusion that anyone would see my struggles as anything but noble -- all's they would see is that my having to struggle harder meant that I would be easier to shove aside as a competitor.

    Some education.