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 Home-School Relations 
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Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 5:15 pm
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Location: Guilford County Schools
The article below was sent by my principal. I thought it to be intersting and related to our classroom discussions.

Linda Younts

Citation
Selcuk, R. Sirin, "Socioeconomic Status and Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analytic Review of Research," Review of Educational Research 75, 3 (Fall 2005): 417-453. (As summarized in Effective Schools Research Abstracts Volume 20, Issue 3)
Review of Educational Research has a web site at http://www.aera.net

Topic
Home-School Relations

Keywords
At-Risk Students, Compensatory Education, Home-School Relations

Body
Do>>
Find>>
Implications>>
What Did the Researcher Do?

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has virtually every school in the United States focused on closing achievement gaps between various student subgroups. The largest and most sweeping gap confronting schools occurs among children from different socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds. As a result, careful study of how SES affects achievement will help guide schools as they try to close this gap.

A 1982 article by White, titled "The Relation Between Socioeconomic Status and Academic Achievement," was the first meta-analysis that examined the relationship between SES and student achievement, using studies of this vital relationship published before 1980. Since 1980, many new studies have examined the relationship between student achievement and SES. Has the relationship between SES and student achievement changed over the last 20 years? Before answering this question, the researchers discuss a number of contextual issues that must be kept in mind.

• There are several different ways researchers have measured SES (parental income, parental occupation, parental education, and home resources). Since the different indices are not highly correlated, the different measures do affect the strength of the relationship between SES and student achievement. So the metric used to measure SES matters just as the metric used to measure student achievement matters.

• Some researchers have used an aggregated measure of SES, such as the free lunch index for the entire school. When the researchers aggregate SES, they then use an aggregated school-level measure of student achievement (e.g., percent proficient). In these studies, the researchers typically look at a sample of schools to determine the strength of the SES/student achievement relationship.

• Some researchers used a disaggregated measure of SES by looking at individual SES and examine student achievement at the individual level as well. As a result, aggregated school-level SES data (e.g., free and reduced-price lunch) cannot be interpreted as a representative metric of family SES. On the other hand, student-level SES data should not be used to explain differences between schools.

• The grade level of the students included in any particular study of the SES/student achievement relationship must be kept in mind, because the strength of the relationship diminishes as the students become older. The strongest correlations between SES and student achievement tend to be associated with the early grades.

The present meta-analytic review was designed to assess the magnitude of the relation between SES and academic achievement in the post-1980 literature. It examines how the SES/academic relationship is moderated by methodological characteristics, the source of SES data, grade level, minority status, and school location.

To be included in this meta-analysis, a study had to apply a measure of SES and academic achievement; report quantitative data in sufficient statistical detail to calculate a correlation between SES and academic achievement; include in its sample students from grades K-12; be published in a professional journal between 1990 and 2000; and include U.S. students in its sample. After filtering through 1,338 potential studies, 201 qualified for inclusion in the meta-analysis.


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What Did the Researcher Find?

One of the primary goals of this meta-analysis was to conduct an exact replication of White's original meta-analysis, which found a mean correlation between student achievement and SES of .343. In the current review, the mean correlation between student achievement and SES was .299. The author concluded that the strength of the relationship between SES and school achievement is not as strong in the present review as it was in White's earlier meta-analysis.

In the case where the SES and student achievement data were aggregated to the school level, the strength of the relationship was found to be .60.

In discussing the findings from the meta-analysis the researcher offered the following observations:

• Family SES, when measured at the individual student level, is one of the strongest correlates of academic performance.

• Parent location in the socioeconomic structure has a strong impact on student academic achievement.

• Family SES sets the stage for students' academic performance both by directly providing educative resources at home, and by indirectly providing the social capital necessary to succeed in school.

In offering policy implications based on this meta-analysis, the researcher suggested the following:

In the U.S., family SES is the most important determinant of school financing, as nearly half of all public school funding is based on local property taxes. Although districts with limited local funds are compensated within a state, in most cases this outside financial support fails to create financial equity between school districts. As a result, students who come from lower-family-SES backgrounds are likely to be in schools that are, at best, financially inferior to schools in more wealthy districts, and at worst in financial crisis.

At present, one in five U.S. children lives in poverty, which puts many of these students at risk for poor school performance or failure. Thus, to significantly reduce the gap in achievement between low- and high-SES students, policy decisions at the local, state, and federal levels must aim at leveling the playing field for students at risk academically due to low-family-SES.

Poverty in the 1990s has become more concentrated in inner-city neighborhoods and among minorities. Thus, even if the current school financing system achieves its goals of financial equity between poor and wealthy school districts, it does not necessarily achieve a comparable "ecological equity," because students in poor districts do not enjoy comparable living circumstances outside the schools.


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What Are Possible Implications for School Improvement?

Both the White study published in 1982 and this meta-analysis confirms a relatively strong relationship between student SES and student achievement. It is very tempting to conclude that low SES causes low achievement and that, since schools can't change student SES, it's impossible to close the achievement gap between middle- and low-SES students. Such conclusions, though tempting, are counterproductive.

Perhaps a more useful approach would be to start with the assumption that all students begin their journey through the K-12 system at various levels of readiness, defined as the extent to which a student has mastered the prerequisites for school. If we placed all students on the readiness continuum, we would quickly see that more low-SES students arrive at school less ready for what the school has to offer. This suggests that the school has a bigger job to do, more ground to make up, more distance to cover for these students to close the "readiness gap." To do this, schools must adjust the school response to the needs of individual students.

Customizing the school response will require more resources, especially expanded time on task and opportunity to learn for low-SES students. What would happen if we placed students in various assessment cohorts based on the readiness at the time they entered school instead of chronological age and grade? In this system, a less-than-ready student would take the third-grade assessment after five years instead of the typical four (k+1+2+3) a "ready" student would have. This model acknowledges that SES does impact school readiness, and yet reinforces what decades of effective schools research has shown: that schools can close the gap for low-SES students by taking readiness into account and adjusting the school response accordingly.

- Larry Lezotte


Copyright © 1986-2003 ESPS, Inc., and Effective Schools Products, Ltd.

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Linda Younts


Mon Nov 14, 2005 4:14 pm
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Interesting reading Linda. Thanks for sharing.

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Penny Loschin
Stokesdale Elementary


Sat Nov 26, 2005 9:22 pm
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This was interesting but restates some of the points we already know, Children go through their schooling at different paces.

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Donna Cannon
Moore Magnet School
451 Knollwood Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27104


Sun Nov 27, 2005 6:17 pm
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Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 5:18 pm
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Location: Page High School
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There was a similar article in the Greensboro paper recently. I think the realquestion is "What can we do about it?"

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Charlie


Mon Nov 28, 2005 9:03 pm
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