Written by: Sabiha Islam, Virginia Commonwealth University
A student’s socioeconomic status (SES) does not define their academic achievement, however it is affected by it. In the article Family Socioeconomic Status, Parent Expectation, and a Child’s Achievement, it was shown through the data collected from a nationally representative sample of children enrolled in kindergarten in the US during 2000 that parent’s SES related indirectly to children’s academic achievement. In this study the data was collected from the selected children, their parents, classroom teachers, and the administrators of the school.
Children living in economically disadvantaged households have vocabularies that are smaller and less developed than children from more affluent households (Stull, 2013). This shows that from the start low-SES students have to play “catch up” in comparison to their more affluent classmates. Low-SES students are also expected to learn new material while they are constantly working towards closing the achievement gap. The data in this study showed that for every one point higher on the family’s SES scale, a child’s achievement score increased by 3.389 points (Stull, 2013).
This is not only due to the fact that students from higher SES families are coming into the classroom with more skill sets and knowledge but also because these students have access to outside resources such as a tutor, which would increase their academic achievement. In the article Parenting Practices and Children’s Academic Success in Low-SES families, how parental involvement affects children in working class families (low-SES) was researched. The children observed in this study were either academically succeeding above predictions or progressing as predicted (poorly).
Looking at the student’s grades they received in school collected the quantitative data for this study. The students were from various cultural backgrounds but half of the students had a White UK heritage. Conducting in-depth interviews with the families of the students collected the qualitative data for this study. In terms of student achievement, this study found that students of high-SES are more likely to feel entitled, which will allow them to make the rules work in their favor in relation to school (Mayo & Siraj, 2015).
However, it was also found that some low-SES children do very well in school because they are used to facing challenges and oftentimes see school as their way out. This mindset helps students from a low-SES persevere in terms of student achievement because they know that they can overcome minor set backs and are used to facing challenges outside of school. This article showed both the negative and positive affects that low-SES could have on a student’s academic achievement. In the article Parental Involvement and Adolescent’s’ Education Success: The Roles of Prior Achievements and Socioeconomic Status, the long-term consequences of parental involvement in relation to SES was researched.
The data was drawn from 15,240 tenth grade students and their families. Surveying the parents involved in the study collected data on parental involvement. The students self-reported their highest level completed in education as well as their grade point average (GPA). The students were from various cultural backgrounds but 57% of the students were White. Coming from a low-SES family had a direct link to poorer health and higher rates of drug use (Benner, Boyle, & Sydney, 2016).
This would have a negative impact on a student’s achievement because they would not be able to focus in school and therefore not meet the required educational fulfillments to progress if they have health problems that are not being taken care of due to their family’s lack of access to resources. The use of drugs also has a negative impact on a child’s educational achievements.
SES also has an influence on parental involvement in terms of a child’s education. In the article Family Socioeconomic Status, Parent Expectation, and a Child’s Achievement, the relationship between a family’s SES and the educational expectations parents had for their children was researched. This study found that having a higher SES positively impacted parental involvement and therefore increased the expectations set by parents. The higher the parental income, the greater the expectancy that their child would attend and finish college (Stull, 2013).
If parents expect their child to finish college that should also mean that they have spent adequate time involving themselves in their child’s education to ensure the said expectation. Therefore, parents from high-SES families who have greater expectations for their children are also the parents who are more likely to be involved in their child’s education. In the article Parenting Practices and Children’s Academic Success in Low-SES Families, the difference between parental involvements in low-SES families was explored. Oftentimes parents from a low-SES are completely dependent towards institutions such as a public school to provide their child with proper education.
Therefore, these parents are less likely to be involved in their child’s education as well as intervene on behalf of their child when it comes to school. This was observed in the parents of the children who were academically performing low. Another factor that determines parental involvement is how much education the parents themselves have received. Parents who have experienced less education tend to be less involved in their child’s education. This has a direct relationship with a family’s SES, because being able to attend college is an expensive process that not all families can afford.
However, the parents of the children who were performing above predictions showed a great deal of parental involvement. These parents showed involvement in school activities because most of these activities were free and therefore affordable. In the article Parental Involvement and Adolescent’s’ Education Success: The Roles of Prior Achievements and Socioeconomic Status, the different types of parental involvement were observed. The article broke down parental involvement into three different categories: home-based, school-based, and academic socialization.
Home-based involvement included any activities parents implemented at home that reinforced what their children were learning at school, school-based involvement was when parents actively involved themselves directly at school, and academic socialization was the indirect messages parents conveyed to their children in terms of their educational expectations (Benner et al., 2016). School-based involvement was most beneficial to students from low-SES families and academic socialization was most beneficial to students from high-SES families.
This was not surprising because as it was shown in the previous article, higher SES correlated to higher expectations and that is why academic socialization is more prominent in high-SES families. School-based involvement is more beneficial to students from low-SES families because access to involving yourself in your child’s school, such as volunteering for a field trip, is not determined by SES. Therefore, parents from a low-SES can still engage in school based-involvement without facing a financial burden. This is beneficial to children coming from a low-SES because it would show them that their parents care about their education and would convey a positive message in terms of expectations without parents explicitly having to say it.
Parental involvement has a direct impact on student achievement in most cases, and this was found to be true in all three articles. According to Stull (2013), “The nature and extent of a parent’s involvement in their child’s education and learning is an important factor in explaining the differential patterns of achievement,” (p. 56). In the article Family Socioeconomic Status, Parent Expectation, and a Child’s Achievement, it was observed that parents of high achievers used more specific strategies to help with school related work and had supportive conversations with their children.
A 45-50 minute phone interview was conducted with each parent in order to collect data on parental involvement. Researchers observing the children completed a series of tasks with the children and asked the child’s kindergarten teacher for information in order to collect data on each child’s achievement. In the article Parenting Practices and Children’s Academic Success in Low-SES Families, it was shown that despite coming from a low-SES background, parental involvement is a key factor in determining a student’s educational achievements. In families with low-SES, how parent’s talked about schooling to their children greatly impacted their child’s achievement.
In the families where the children were academically progressing poorly, it was observed that both the parents and children perceived academic learning as something that needed to be dealt with because it was required, not because it was something they valued (Mayo & Siraj, 2015). If the parents themselves view school as something that has no value then they will be less involved in their child’s education and that will directly impact how their child feels about attending school as well as their achievements.
However, the exact opposite was observed in the families with children who were achieving above predictions. According to Mayo & Siraj (2015), “For the children who were succeeding above prediction, explicit, emotional support for school and learning was felt to have facilitated academic achievement because it helped develop a positive attitude towards school, teachers, and learning and fostered a strong motivation to do well academically,” (p.53).
This was not surprising because children usually share similar views as their parents, and if parents are involved in their child’s education and view it positively, then their child will have a similar mindset towards education. The children in these families were achieving above predictions because they valued their education and had parents who were actively involved in their learning. In the article Parental Involvement and Adolescent’s’ Education Success: The Roles of Prior Achievements and Socioeconomic Status, it was found that high levels of school-based parental involvement and educational expectations were associated with higher GPA’s for students (Benner et al., 2016). This further proves that a student’s educational achievement is impacted by parental involvement or lack thereof.
While there were many positives to each of these articles, there were also a few things each of them lacked. In the article Family Socioeconomic Status, Parent Expectation, and a Child’s Achievement, it was stated that school conditions could be changed in order to compensate for differences in family SES (Stull, 2013). However, it was not explicitly stated in the article how exactly school conditions could be changed. The achievement gap in education is a huge problem in today’s society and even though school conditions can be changed to help decrease these gaps it is not enough to just say it.
As a future educator, it would have been helpful if the article explicitly stated specific things that can be done in the classroom to decrease the achievement gap. A student’s SES is something that impacts their educational achievements and coming up with specific ways that schools can offset the differences in SES amongst students would have made the article stronger. In this article data was only collected from Kindergarten students.
Even though the article portrayed the different results that family SES has on a child’s achievement it did not account for any changes that a child experienced in achievement as they went on in school because all the participants in the study were in Kindergarten. One thing that this article did well was explaining how exactly a family’s SES affects a child’s achievement. It is important that teachers take a child’s SES into consideration in order to better understand and teach their students.
In the article Parenting Practices and Children’s Academic Success in Low-SES Families, it was stated that all of the families in the study were from a low-SES, but their parenting styles were what was different. The different parenting styles were what affected their child’s educational achievements. The findings in this study were surprising because it showed how detrimental a parent’s role is in terms of their child’s academic success. Adequate parental involvement could even be used to offset the role that SES plays in terms of a student’s academic achievement.
Therefore, this knowledge can be used to help offset the differences in students’ academic achievements that are caused by SES. The article failed to mention how many children were present in each of the families as well as what specific jobs the parents were working. This could play a huge role in parent involvement because if parents have fewer children then they would be more able to give individualized attention to their children, which in return would affect a child’s achievement.
Also, if students had older siblings present in the house that may also attribute to how well they are doing academically because older siblings also play either a positive or negative role in a student’s educational success. Stating the specific jobs the parents worked would have made the article stronger because a parent’s job can affect how involved they are in their child’s education. Some jobs allow parents to have weekends off while other jobs don’t, therefore by explicitly stating what kind of job each parent in the low-SES families had would allow readers to have a better understanding of why or why not some parents were/weren’t involved in their child’s education.
In the article Parental Involvement and Adolescent’s’ Education Success: The Roles of Prior Achievements and Socioeconomic Status, over 50% of the participants in the study were White. Therefore, fluctuations between diverse groups of students in relation to academic achievement were not observed. The data collected could be skewed because over 50% of the participants were from the same race. Also, if the data collected was from a more diverse group of students then future educators could have made better use of the results because it is very unlikely that you will have only one race present in your classroom. The positive aspects of this study were that it found which types of parental involvement is best for students from both high and low-SES.
Students from a low-SES benefit most from school-based involvement and students from a high-SES benefit most from academic socialization (high expectations from parents). Therefore, educators can encourage the parents of their students to do certain things that have a positive affect on their child’s academic achievement. The findings in this study were not surprising because they proved that SES, parental involvement, and students’ educational success are all intertwined and affected by one another.
Multiple parallels could be found within the readings and concepts that we have discussed in class thus far. One of the things that was talked about in the article Parenting Practices and Children’s Academic Success in Low-SES Families, was that the parents of the children who were achieving above predictions allowed their children to make their own decisions about their education when it was appropriate. As stated in chapter five of the textbook on motivation, humans have a basic need for autonomy because they want control over the things they do (Omrod, 2017).
If children feel as though they have a say in their education then they will be more motivated to learn. Motivation has a direct impact on a student’s academic achievement and this was seen to be true in the article because the children who were give a sense of autonomy were achieving above predictions. Another relationships that I found between this article and a theory we have talked about in class is how parental involvement can help promote either a growth or fixed mindset in children.
In the article it stated that oftentimes parents who had a bad experience with school exert that same feeling onto their children by portraying school in a negative light and as something that their child can never excel in. This would trigger students to have a fixed mindset where they would believe that intelligence and school in general is something that they cannot work towards/achieve. This was seen to be true because these were the parents of students who were academically performing low and this could partially be due to the fact that they had a fixed mindset.
However, on the other hand students who were performing above predictions had parents who fostered a growth mindset in their children. A growth mindset is when students know that accomplishments happen because of their hard work and perseverance, and that is exactly what these parents conveyed to their children. A growth mindset also encourages students to be intrinsically motivated in terms of learning and this could be found in the students who were progressing above predictions. They had become intrinsically motivated and therefore wanted to do well in school and take responsibility for their assignments (Mayo & Siraj, 2015).
From all three of these articles I was able to learn how SES, parent involvement, and educational achievement are all intertwined and affected by one another. These findings suggest that academic interventions and supports can be constructed to specifically support the educational success of all children, regardless of their SES. As educators if we know that children from low-SES families have parents who don’t explicitly state or have high expectations in regards to education then we can ether inform these parents as to why they should have high expectations for their children or vocalize these expectations to our students ourselves.
Parental involvement has a direct impact on a child’s educational achievements, therefore we can create opportunities where parents from various SES can be involved in their child’s learning. Another way that we can promote parental involvement and increase student achievement in the classroom is by making sure that we practice culturally relevant teaching. If parents feel as though they are welcomed into our classroom then they will be more likely to be involved in their child’s education.
A student’s academic achievement will also be positively affected by culturally relevant teaching because students need to be able to relate to the information that is being taught to them in order to make connections and be motivated to learn. Therefore, by considering the different cultures that exist within your classroom and relating your instruction to these cultures you will be facilitating a way for students to make connections with the material that is being taught to them.
Students will also fulfill their need for relatedness if they feel as though they are accepted and a part of their classroom community, which has a direct relationship to student motivation. While it is impossible to change a student’s SES, it is not impossible to understand how SES affects a student’s academic achievement. By understanding this, we as future educators, can change school conditions to compensate for the differences a child faces when coming from a lower SES.
Aprile D. Benner, Alaina E. Boyle, and Sydney Sadler. (2016). Parental Involvement and
Adolescents’ Educational Success: The Role of Prior Achievement and SocioeconomicStatus. J Youth Adolescence. 45, 1053-1064.
Aziza Mayo and Iram Siraj. (2015). Parenting practices and children’s academic success in low-SES families. Oxford Review of Education. 41 (1), 47-63
Judith C. Stull. (2013). Family socioeconomic status, parent expectations, and a child’sachievement. Research in Education. 90 (1), 53-67.
Ormrod, J. E., & Jones, B. D. (2018). Essentials of educational psychology: big ideas to guide effective teaching (5th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.