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Effects of socioeconomic status on academic performance in Missouri public schools

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Brent M Blevins
Abstract:
Understanding the effects of socioeconomic status on academic performance is important in determining effective and valid testing for all Missouri students. Determining the correlation between these two variables is important for all educators to understand, so that all students can achieve to their academic potential. Finding the correlation between academic performance and socioeconomic status can assist educators in determining instructional strategies that best fit each individual student. In this study the researcher analyzed the effects of socioeconomic status on the academic performance by retrieving data on the state mandated Missouri Assessment Program. The researcher analyzed fifty school districts on the communication arts portion of the MAP test. This data was used in determining the academic performance of these students. The percent of free and reduced lunch students in these districts was used in determining their socioeconomic status. The correlation between the two variables was determined by using the Pearson r Correlation Formula.

iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract.................................................iii List of Tables............................................vi CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION...................................1 Statement of the Problem.........................5 Importance of the Study..........................7 Design of the Study..............................9 Hypotheses......................................10 Null Hypothesis #1.......................10 Null Hypothesis #2.......................10 Null Hypothesis #3.......................10 Limitations of the Study........................10 Operational Definitions.........................12 Summary.........................................14 CHAPTER II REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE.................17 Cause of Academic Success.......................18 The Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Academic Performance.....................................27 The Problems of Standardized Testing within the Population......................................39 Urban vs Rural Education........................44 Factors Affecting Academic Success..............49 Home Environment................................54 Summary.........................................63 CHAPTER III METHODS......................................66

v Introduction....................................66 Hypothesis Tested...............................70 Description of the Population...................71 Instrumentation.................................72 Administration Procedures.......................74 Treatment of Data...............................74 CHAPTER IV ANALYSIS OF DATA..............................76 Introduction....................................76 Restatement of the Problem......................77 Analysis of the Correlation Between Academic Success and Socioeconomic Status................78 Summary.........................................87 CHAPTER V SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS......90 Summary.........................................90 Conclusions.....................................92 Recommendations.................................95 REFERENCES................................................97 VITA.....................................................116

vi LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Correlation Between Academic Success and Free and Reduced Lunch in 250 Random Missouri Schools.............................. Table 2. Correlation Between Academic Success and Free and Reduced Lunch in Small Rural Schools...................................... Table 3. Correlation Between Academic Success and Free and Reduced Lunch in Large Urban Schools......................................

CHAPTER I Introduction Student achievement in public schools has become a top priority for the United States Government. With the passing of legislation in 1998 known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), public schools have been mandated to have all students receive proficient scores on state assessments by the year 2014. This has created a sense of urgency among public school administrators and teachers throughout the country. This legislation has created much discussion and debate on the outcome factor of student achievement. One of the most debated issues among educational professionals is the correlation between the academic performance and socioeconomic status of students. A prevalent argument is that the socioeconomic status of a student has a major effect on his/her academic performance. Many school districts with a high number of low socioeconomic students feel that meeting the state and federal requirements on test scores is unrealistic (Ellis, 2008). Others challenge this theory and imply that other variables outside the socioeconomic status of a student are the determining factor in academic performance (Marzano, 2003). The study examined the correlation between academic

Socioeconomic Status 2 performance and socioeconomic status of students in Missouri Public Schools. Research was conducted to determine if there is a correlation between socioeconomic status and academic performance in large urban school districts and small rural school districts. Much research has been done on the effects of socioeconomic status and academic performance in relation to large urban school districts. Little research has been done on the effects of such variables in small rural school districts. The correlation of these two backgrounds and geographical differences was studied to determine if a correlation exists between the two groups. Many educators think that low socioeconomic status creates a negative effect on academic performance. Adams (1996) mentioned that the basic needs of certain students are not being met, thus not allowing the students to physically or mentally be able to perform in school. If students are not properly fed or given proper hygiene care, they cannot be expected to perform successfully in their academics. These environmental deficiencies are thought by educators to have a negative effect on the student’s image and result in a lowering of self-esteem. This lack of confidence infringes on the success a student may have in

Socioeconomic Status 3 the academic environment (US Department of Education, 2003). Determining if socioeconomic status has an effect on academic performance is important in concluding if state assessments are equitable measurements for all schools. Crane (1996) stated that many studies have determined that there are significant disparities in students’ cognitive skills due to their home environments. There is direct evidence that socioeconomic status and home environment play a major role in the achievement of mathematic skills of children. Crane concluded there are other variables that can play a role in the student’s performance including size of the family and cognitive genetics of the parents. The factor that most generally applies to mathematic performance of the student is the socioeconomic status. There is great attention by educators and researchers to determine if the socioeconomic status of children plays a role in their academic performance. Garzon (2006) stated socioeconomic status is a determining factor on what strategies could be implemented in the curriculum to assist these particular students. It also could change the process on how these students are evaluated and assessed. The goal for all educators is to make every student successful in the educational process. Kahlenberg (2006) concluded that

Socioeconomic Status 4 high poverty schools can be successful, but such success is not very common. Middle-class schools tend to perform better academically due to the support at home, and such students come to school more prepared than those of lower- class school districts. Low-income students have been shown to perform well in middle-class schools, compared to middle-class students performance in low-income schools (Kahlenberg). In middle-class schools students are exposed to an environment that values education and are less likely to be involved in discipline problems. Students in middle- class schools have a less transient population and are more likely to attend college after graduation. Middle-class parents are more likely to support and become involved in school activities that promote the importance of education to the student (Kirkup, 2008). Some scholars argue that socioeconomic status is an excuse for low scoring school districts on assessments. Many feel that low-income school districts can still perform at a high academic level. Lang (1998) stated that socioeconomic groups are closing the gap on academic performance. There is a contrary argument among society that less intelligent people are producing more children than highly intelligent people. The socioeconomic class

Socioeconomic Status 5 differences among the higher and lower thirds have slowly decreased since 1932. On the contrary, many feel that socioeconomic status is a key factor in academic performance. Bracey (2004) concluded that socioeconomic status and poverty in school districts are not an excuse for low academic performance in students, but a condition. “Like gravity, it affects everything”. Toutkoushian and Curtis (2005) stated that schools are punished due to low test scores when presented with a high population of low socioeconomic students. The problem increases when state funding is affected by standardized test scores in relation to schools that have a low academic outcome due to high numbers of low socioeconomic children. Schools do not have control over the economic status of the population that resides within their district but are still held accountable for successful outcomes on state mandated test scores (Toutkoushian & Curtis).

The purpose of this study was to determine if a correlation exists between low socioeconomic students and their academic performance on Missouri standardized tests. The study also focused on the correlation of socioeconomic status and academic performance between small rural schools

Socioeconomic Status 6 and large urban schools. Wenglinsky (1998) implied that students of low socioeconomic families have fewer educational opportunities than those from the middle and upper class families. The educational background of the students’ families plays an important role in academic success. Burtless (1996) stated that schools that have strong financial resources can positively affect the performance of students in those districts. Financial equalization is an important factor in the quality of education and the overall academic success among those students. Heyneman (2005) stated that for many years it has been shown that students from a low socioeconomic background do not show effective performance in school. It is globally suggested that social status is the key factor in academic performance, but this is not necessarily true. There are many other factors, including but not limited to subject, student age, and gender. Heyneman concluded the important solution is the integration of the social classes among schools. The argument should shift from closing the gap of social status of adults and focus on the integration of the social classes. However, Shever and Walls (1998) mentioned that there is much more to consider when discussing

Socioeconomic Status 7 students academic performance than just their social background. The constant debate of socioeconomic status and academic performance is evident among many studies. Okpala, Okpala and Smith (2001) conclude that schools with a high amount of expenditures per pupil showed a positive effect on student achievement, where as schools with a high number of free and reduced lunch participants reflected negatively. Schools with a high number of free and reduced lunch participants are considered to be low-income schools districts. These districts scored poorly on standardized tests (Okpala, Okpala and Smith). Students in a low-income school district do not have the home support to promote the importance of academic success (Trusty, 1999).

As the importance of meeting Annual Yearly Progress on state mandated assessments becomes more intense, the need for understanding the correlation of socioeconomic status and academic performance increases. Once a correlation is determined between the student’s academic success and his/her socioeconomic status, research will need to be done to meet the needs of that particular student population. Tucholka (2006) stated that standardized tests are an important tool in evaluating and making decisions in

Socioeconomic Status 8 educational reform. This is why it is so important to understand the many factors that are entailed when making decisions based on standardized test outcomes. Results of this study will help educators make important decisions on education reform that will best benefit all social groups of students. This study will determine if there is a correlation between socioeconomic status and educational performance in Missouri schools, and whether a correlation exists between small, rural and large, urban schools. With the determination of this data, administrators can push for reform with legislators and the State Board of Education to implement strategies to make all students successful. It will also aid in determining if the standardized Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test is an effective tool in assessing school and student success. The correlation between socioeconomic status and academic performance has been an important and much discussed topic for many years among educators. There are many factors that are viewed and studied in determining academic success. Factors such as cultural background, socioeconomic status, gender, race, genetics and parental educational background, are just a few that have been studied. This study focused on the correlation between the socioeconomic background of the student and their success

Socioeconomic Status 9 on the Missouri Assessment Program, and the relationship between small, rural and large, urban schools. The study included nineteen large urban school districts in the Kansas City and St. Louis geographical areas with over 5,000 students enrolled in grades K-12. Nineteen small rural school districts were randomly chosen throughout the state of Missouri with a K-12 enrollment of less than 1,500 students. Again, the MAP test was be used to determine the correlation between the small rural districts and the large urban districts.

The intent of this study was to randomly choose two hundred fifty school districts in the state of Missouri. The MAP scores, representing academic performance, and the percent of free and reduced lunch students, representing the socioeconomic status, were studied. Test scores from two hundred fifty Missouri school districts were analyzed to determine if a correlation existed between academic performance and socioeconomic status. The effects of low socioeconomic students from rural and urban schools were analyzed to determine if a correlation exists between these two variables. The data from the study was taken from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website. The data was ranked

Socioeconomic Status 10 according to the districts’ MAP scores, and the percent of their free and reduced lunch count. The Pearson r Correlation Formula was used to analyze and determine the percent of correlation between the students’ academic performance and socioeconomic status. H 1. The null hypothesis will determine that a correlation does not exist between socioeconomic status and academic success in Missouri schools. 2. The second null hypothesis will determine that a correlation does not exist between socioeconomic status and academic success in small, rural school districts in Missouri. 3. The third null hypothesis will determine that a correlation does not exist between socioeconomic status and academic success in large, urban school districts in Missouri. L Two hundred fifty Missouri school districts were randomly chosen to study their MAP results from the 2007 school year. Nineteen large, urban schools from the Kansas City and St. Louis areas and nineteen randomly chosen, small, rural school districts were studied, using MAP results for the 2007 school year. The percent of the

Socioeconomic Status 11 districts’ free and reduced lunch count was also studied. This data was analyzed to determine the correlation between academic performance and socioeconomic status of these districts. The time frame for the study included the fall and spring semesters of 2008-2009 year. Limitations of Study: 1. Two hundred fifty school districts of the five hundred forty districts in the state of Missouri were used in this study. 2. Only Missouri Assessment Program test data was used to determine academic performance. 3. Research was limited to the state of Missouri. 4. Some parents who would qualify for free and reduced lunches do not participate in the free and reduced price lunch program. 5. Only the federal free and reduced lunch qualifications were used in determining socioeconomic status. 6. A limited number of large urban school districts are located in the state of Missouri. 7. It is assumed that the information reported by school districts to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MDESE) is current and accurate.

Socioeconomic Status 12 O C .A study in which the researcher does not manipulate variables, but rather studies naturally occurring relationships (correlations) among variables. F R L Q.A rule that details state and local responsibilities as outlined in 7 CFR part 245 which are used to determine eligibility and establish procedures for extending free and reduced price meals and free milk to eligible children from economically needy families. Specific areas in this rule include eligibility standards, public announcements, applications, hearing procedures and nondiscrimination practices. L, U .The school districts used in the study that have an enrollment of more than 5,000 students and are located within the Kansas City and St. Louis areas. M A (MA ).The annual set of mandatory standardized tests taken by students in the state of Missouri, USA. Each April, students in elementary, middle and high schools take the tests in math and communication arts. The language arts tests are taken in

Socioeconomic Status 13 third, seventh and eleventh grades, while the math tests are taken in the fourth, eighth, and tenth grades. M E E (EE). The administrative arm of the State Board of Education. It is primarily a service agency that works with educators, legislators, government agencies and citizens to maintain a strong public education system. Through its statewide school improvement initiatives and regulatory functions, the department strives to assure that all citizens have access to high-quality public education. The scope of the department’s duties ranges from early childhood to adult education services. F.A correlation coefficient employed with interval- or ratio-sealed variables. T .Students that have or show knowledge, ability, or skill in the Missouri Assessment Program. This consists of students that score proficient or advanced on particular areas of the MAP test. , R .The school districts used in the study that have an enrollment of less than 1,500 students and not located in a large urban, geographical area.

Socioeconomic Status 14 .A term for referring to prestige-based measures of socioeconomic position as determined by rankings in a social hierarchy. T.Tests that are uniformly developed, administered and scored. They are given to a group in a similar setting under similar conditions in order to determine and evaluate against a norm. .The percentage of students within any given school district scoring proficient or above proficient on the MAP test.

This study will benefit fellow administrators and educators in pursuing knowledge that will assist in determining the important variables in successful academic performance. With increased accountability of educators mandated by recent federal legislation, it is important to focus on how to help all students succeed. The constant debate and concern of low-income students and how to successfully educate them are of vital importance. The intent of this research paper is to find the correlation between academic performance and socioeconomic status, so that educators can determine effective education reform that will benefit all students. By collecting and analyzing the data from the selected school districts in the state of

Socioeconomic Status 15 Missouri, the results will add to the ongoing discussion of this issue. Educators know the importance of successfully promoting performance in all students. They underestimate the importance of student variables that determine academic success. Educators work extremely hard to help students become as successful as possible, but they do not have the knowledge of individual needs requiring innovative teaching techniques. It is important that educators study the issue of socioeconomic achievement and academic performance. The success of our schools, administrators and students rely on the ability to determine the variety of variables responsible for academic achievement. It is important for educators to understand the correlation between socioeconomic status and academic performance that exists between small rural and large urban school districts. These findings will be vital in determining teaching strategies and techniques to meet the needs of each individual student. Findings will be important for educational reform, depending on the size and geographical location of a school district. It is necessary for educators to understand each variable affecting academic performance, including socioeconomic status,

Socioeconomic Status 16 gender, race, and geographical location, including small, rural and large, urban settings.

Socioeconomic Status 17 CHAPTER II Review of Relevant Literature Understanding the correlation between socioeconomic status and academic performance is important in determining education strategies. Most states use standardized testing in determining proficient school districts. They do not take into consideration other variables, including socioeconomic status, when evaluating standardized test scores. Much research shows a correlation between different social aspects of students and how they academically perform. Educators need to determine what factors affect educational success and exploit ideas in determining ways to increase academic achievement. Educational reform has been a widely discussed topic in the United States for many years. The American Institutes for Research (2005) showed many concerns on recent studies comparing students in the United States with those of other countries. The 2001, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation mandated public school districts to become 100 percent proficient among all students by the year 2014. This has increased pressure on school teachers and administrators to perform on state standardized tests. The California Executive Board (2001) showed concerns among school district personnel on whether the grading of

Socioeconomic Status 18 standardized tests considers the social background of the students. The diversity among students should be taken into consideration when determining each student’s proficiency. The purpose of this study is to find if socioeconomic status has a correlation with academic performance. It will focus on the effects of such variables in small, rural and large, urban school districts. It will also look at other social factors that affect academic success. Determining this correlation will help educators determine teaching strategies to implement for student diversity, size of school district and geographical location, and determine if standardized testing needs reorganizing to conclude if students meet mandated proficiency levels. C A For years educators have argued the issues of what determines the academic success of all students. Secker (2004) stated that, when groups of students with similar backgrounds are compared, the students from a high- socioeconomic status outperform those from a low socioeconomic status (SES) on academic performance. High SES is related to better social support, fewer discipline problems in the district, and higher social expectations. The most common variables in low income school districts

Socioeconomic Status 19 are parental education, parental occupation, large family size, and absence of one parent (Secker). Several factors appear to have an affect on standardized achievement scores; 1) a student’s intellectual ability; 2) the nature of school curriculum and instruction and the standardized tests used to measure student mastery of that curriculum; 3) the cultural and socio-economic history and environment of the individual student; 4) the economic environment of the school attended by the student. Only one of these factors (number 2, above) is in the control of the school district. (Research and Accountability Department Pinellas County Schools, 1999) Poverty level of students was studied in mathematic students in North Carolina to determine if the students’ social levels were indicators of their academic performance. McCoy’s (2005) research stated that mathematical teaching and learning is one of the most important and serious issues in education. Often, schools with a high poverty level have a difficult time recruiting and retaining quality teachers. With the inability to hire effective teachers, the quality of learning does not meet its potential. McCoy goes on to state that poor achievement

Socioeconomic Status 20 in algebra is mainly due to the students. Various social and personal characteristics, including gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status play a major role in students’ academic success. Research shows that students who are poor, female, and a minority tend to have less academic success than other students. Hershberg (2005) suggested educational reform in which all students succeed, including low socioeconomic status students, deal with producing, recruiting, and retaining quality educators. This involves changing the teaching field into one that is more of a financially rewarding and intellectually satisfying experience. There are many components to study when determining the actual causes of academic performance. Rumberger and Palardy (2005) concluded that the overall socioeconomic status of the school had as much effect on academic performance as the individual student’s SES. Schools that serve low-income students tend to operate differently than the highly affluent districts. These low-income districts differ in teacher expectations, amount of homework given, the number of high-level courses students take, and the overall students’ concern for safety. The authors stated that if school environment is not an issue, then segregation is not the solution to improving low-income

Socioeconomic Status 21 school districts, and that adding resources to these districts will benefit low-income students. Research shows a wide range of data when showing the correlation between socioeconomic status and academic performance. Sirin (2005) stated there are many variables to consider when determining a student’s socioeconomic status effect on academic achievement. The student’s race and parental education play an important role when researching this correlation. Sirin also discussed research that showed that schools’ demographics also play an important role in SES and the effect it has with academic achievement. Parental income has a strong effect on student performance due to the economic resources allowed for more academic components to be implemented. Resources available at home are an important indicator for the relationship between socioeconomic status and academic performance (Sirin). Another indicator of SES is the influence of parental education. It is considered one of the most important aspects in determining SES because it is established at an early age and tends to remain the same over time (Krashen 2005). Segregation of school districts is discussed as a potential fix for low-income students. Kahlenberg (2006) discussed that low-SES students should be integrated into

Socioeconomic Status 22 middle class districts. There should be no more than 42% of free and reduced students in one particular district. This allows for greater achievement for these low-SES students. Research also shows that middle class students are still improving in achievement and maintaining a high level of academic performance. This occurs because the majority sets the pace for academic performance in the district. The author goes on to state that research indicates that the socioeconomic makeup up of the school determines academic performance, not the racial makeup. The reason for black students’ increase in academic performance with integration was not due to the fact they were placed with white students; it was increased due to the improvement of the socioeconomic makeup of the district in which the students were placed (Kahlenberg). Hardy (2006) concluded that it is not the socioeconomic status of one particular individual that determines his/her academic success; it is the socioeconomic status of the entire school that is the determining factor. Integrating schools by putting low socioeconomic status students in with middle and upper class students will promote higher expectations, more effective teachers and administrators, and an overall better learning environment for students to achieve academic success. Test scores show that disadvantaged

Socioeconomic Status 23 students perform remarkably better in upper and middle class schools which have stronger discipline, more college prep courses, and peers who, from an early age, are expected to attend college (Hardy). There are many variables that can lead to positive thinking and successful classroom environments that create high academic performance. Page’s (2002) study compared the attainment of elementary students in technology classrooms in terms of student achievement, self-esteem, and classroom collaboration. The study showed positive effects on technology and academic performance of elementary students from a low socioeconomic status and the sense of worth those students achieved while involved in the technology curriculum. Alves-Martins, Pixoto, Gouveia-Pereira, Amaral, Pedro (2002)concluded many educators have studied the importance of self-esteem and worthiness, and how both affect academic performance. Page (2002) stated the increase of interest in technology and the success that was accomplished showed great improvement of their students’ academic success. It appears that the use of technology has a positive effect on student self-esteem and worthiness, thus creating a positive and successful learning environment.

Socioeconomic Status 24 The environments to which children are exposed play a crucial role in their academic potential. Goddard (2003) indicated that the academic success of individuals is directly related to their own personal characteristics. Members of schools, families, and communities play a vital role in the student’s academic accomplishments. Students may have access to many forms of social support to assist in their academic performance. The social assistance a student received from his/her various support groups had an impact on his/her academic success. Relational networks and social features, such as relational trust and positive support groups, are essential. Relationships that have little trust and discourage positive academic performance are detrimental for student success (Goddard). Furstenberg and Hughes (1995) showed that social capital, defined by a parent’s involvement in his/her child and his/her community, increased the percentages of his/her child graduating from high school and attending college. Goddard (2003) showed that the social structure involving the parents, children, and the community were important factors in the academic success of their children. If a child’s actions are supported with the group’s norms and values, a sense of trust is instilled in the child, thus instilling a sense of confidence that is crucial for academic success.

Socioeconomic Status 25 Rouse and Hollomon (2005) stated that, since the release of A Nation At Risk (1983), the American public education system has been challenged to produce a better quality education for all students. Strong accountability has been placed on teachers and administrators in public schools. Having quality teachers that are well trained has become an important component of educational policy reform. Hollomon and Rouse also mentioned that higher educational facilities have a responsibility of training and producing a higher level of quality teachers and administrators. Teachers are required to obtain a more advanced teaching certificate than ever before. They must pass state exams and continue professional development throughout their careers. NCLB (2001) legislation requires a teacher to receive a Masters degree in order to be considered a Highly Qualified Teacher. The achievement gap among minorities has been consistently studied to determine how to improve educational instruction. Pearce (2006) concluded that achievement gaps and racial inequality have shown the importance of cultural and structural elements as keys for academic performance. The gap between whites and blacks within American education is large, but the Chinese- American gap is relatively low. The key reason for the

Full document contains 125 pages
Abstract: Understanding the effects of socioeconomic status on academic performance is important in determining effective and valid testing for all Missouri students. Determining the correlation between these two variables is important for all educators to understand, so that all students can achieve to their academic potential. Finding the correlation between academic performance and socioeconomic status can assist educators in determining instructional strategies that best fit each individual student. In this study the researcher analyzed the effects of socioeconomic status on the academic performance by retrieving data on the state mandated Missouri Assessment Program. The researcher analyzed fifty school districts on the communication arts portion of the MAP test. This data was used in determining the academic performance of these students. The percent of free and reduced lunch students in these districts was used in determining their socioeconomic status. The correlation between the two variables was determined by using the Pearson r Correlation Formula.