SES may not play a large (direct) role in student education

Discussion in 'General Education' started by EdEd, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    The link below describes multiple authors who argue that SES does not directly affect student achievement directly. The authors describe the possibility that prior student achievement (and other variables such as student intelligence) might be responsible for most of the difference between children from low and high SES backgrounds, meaning that if you hold constant prior student achievement, SES becomes negligible in terms of explaining student achievement (perhaps 4%).

    What implications do you see of these findings?

    http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=16872
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    So if student achievement is not impacted by SES but is impacted by student intelligence, is the article suggesting that the reason kids in low SES communities consistently fail is that they are less intelligent? And this is simply a coincidence?
     
  4. roxstar

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    It seems to me that the article is stating that the SES of the SCHOOL is a bigger factor than the SES of the student. Interesting. My school throws money at our kids. We have every piece of technology known to man, teacher trainings, the latest in curriculum, and yet our students are not achieving. I have been searching for the answer to this myself.
     
  5. stargirl

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    It seems to me that the article is stating that the SES of the SCHOOL is a bigger factor than the SES of the student.

    That's interesting, because my school has a majority of high SES students with probably about 15% very low SES. The low SES students mostly come as transfers from inner city schools, and enter with below grade level skills, but because our school is mostly high performing and the teachers are not overwhelmed by a whole class of struggling students (academically and behaviorally) these kids do get caught up to grade level and are able to perform satisfactorily.
     
  6. indigo-angel

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    Education research is nothing new, with the same or similar topics being researched again and again, mostly saying the same things. The traditional school model has been failing students since its inception, for various reasons. Why don't more researchers look to alternative models? Not only is sitting in a desk not the optimal learning environment for humans, but this structure relies much on conformity, rules, and authority, all of which are oppressive for most young learners. I think the questions shouldn't be as much about teachers, research, or SES, but more about alternatives to what is currently presented to students.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't know about this. Previous generations seem to have been successful in school, at least at the elementary level. I'm in my early 30s, and I believe that the traditional school model that my classmates and I experienced was successful. I feel like the bulk of the problem lies elsewhere, although I admit I'm not sure where.
     
  8. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    That is a poorly written paper if a bunch of us teachers can't figure out what the author is saying. The author seems to ignore the mountain of information about the correlations between low achievement and poverty.

    Also, indigo-angel's experiences are vastly different from my own and my 30 years as a classroom teacher. Current traditional schools are hugely successful. The NAEP test scores of American students are at their highest point in history: for black students, white students, Hispanic students, and Asian students. This, despite the highest poverty rate of any major industrialized nation.
     
  9. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    That is what I gathered from the article, too.

    Your school may be one where as the school moved to a higher SES school expectations were not lowered and the change happened at a manageable rate.
     
  10. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    That same thought crossed my mind as well. My understanding of the research is that children from high-poverty backgrounds may demonstrate lower IQ because of the myriad of detrimental effects poverty (and related conditions) can have on child development, from pre-natal nutrition to exposure to vocabulary as toddlers. I don't think it means that kids from high-poverty backgrounds are genetically less intelligent, but that environmental conditions play a role, and many of those environmental conditions are compromised in poverty.

    Of course, under the model I described above, SES would still be the predominantly active ingredient behind lower quality environmental conditions in early childhood, so the author isn't necessarily saying that SES is unimportant, but that there may be intermediary variables which are the direct cause. Hypothetically, then, if those environmental conditions (for example) could be fixed, then SES would not have an impact on student achievement (at least in the area of intelligence).
     
  11. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Roxstar & stargirl - I think you are right in that a primary point of the article is that SES of the school is a big variable, and it's interesting that you both have had different experiences in that department. I've actually seen both of your situations play out in different schools, so the answer is clearly not simply the SES of the school. That doesn't mean that the research findings are invalid, as a correlation or causation doesn't have to be found in every single case to be true for the group, but it does mean that the SES status itself is not sufficient to produce higher levels of student achievement. Other variables present in those schools are no doubt important, some of which - stargirl - you point out in your post.
     
  12. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Caesar & Tyler B - I think you both are right in that the traditional classroom model alone is not problematic, but rather the match with the kinds of students sitting in those classrooms. It may not work with all kids/groups, but it does work with some.

    Tyler, interestingly the NAEP scores are no doubt not just influenced by the traditional classroom model, as we've seen a huge explosion in the last 10 years of Response to Intervention and accountability. It's quite possible that those very nontraditional variables are responsible for the improvement you point out, as those new variables are really the only things to have changed significantly in the past 10 years.
     
  13. EdEd

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    I don't think it's poorly written simply because we can't understand it. How many of us reading the article have advanced graduate work in statistics, or in the study of SES? No doubt, I couldn't read many psychopharmacology studies, but it doesn't mean they aren't valid just because I personally can't read them.

    In terms of the mountain of information about the correlations between low achievement and poverty, I think the author is actually very directly addressing that research, not ignoring it. I think the author is attempting to look more closely at that mountain and see what it's composed of. The author is not ignoring the correlation between poverty and achievement, simply wondering if there are other variables at play which may mean we should look at that correlation a bit differently.

    A basic statistical concept at play in the article is that correlation does not equal causation. I remember from an undergrad statistics class a professor giving the example that men with beards statistically live happier lives. However, just because there is that correlation does not mean that beards cause happiness. In that example, a third variable might have been at play (e.g., men with beards may engage in more outdoor/physical activity - not sure about this, just guessing).

    In the example of poverty & achievement, the author agrees that there is a correlation, but wonders if there is causation, and - if so - wonders if there is a direct causation. As some others pointed out earlier, there also may be a correlation between the SES/FRL status of a school and student achievement. When holding constant SES/FRL status of the school, it appears that the correlation between achievement and individual poverty status diminishes.

    I don't think anyone disagrees that poverty causes problems, some of which have an impact at school. But, the main question is whether poverty itself directly causes problems at school, or whether poverty causes other problems, which then cause problems at school. The implication is that those "other problems" may be easier to fix (e.g., prenatal nutrition) than poverty itself, which obviously has implications in terms of social work, early child development, etc., as poverty is a much harder variable to fix than some others.
     
  14. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I actually think researchers are looking at new models like never before. Consider the case of charter schools - many of those schools are experimenting with new models of education, and producing research along the way.
     
  15. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Sadly, SES in Ohio has gotten so botched, my school has dropped their affiliation with the program.
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    :confused: What do you mean?
     
  17. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Many of the tutoring and extra services being paid for by SES were faking and padding their hours. We stopped using the funds for those services. I'm hoping this will increase our hiring of Title I teachers (which was how I was originally hired), because we have students coming from all over the state who are at a major deficit if they wish to graduate with more than a 1.0 average.
     
  18. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    (I'm thinking here that we're talking about two different things called "SES". In the context of the original article, it's "Socio-Economic Status". It must also be the name of a program in Ohio.)
     
  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think you're right, mm. I understood the article to be about socio-economic status.
     
  20. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Indeed - I think catnfiddle is referring to Supplemental Education Services (SES), which was a government subsidy to provide tutoring agencies to the tune of around $1,500/year for that agency to provide private tutoring, which was one of the supposed remediations provided to students attending schools who had not met AYP for a certain number of years.

    I definitely saw a number of providers providing less than adequate services in that department as well, catnfiddle
     
  21. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I can think of a hypothetical experiment. Take a functioning student and make him poor. Would that student suddenly stop functioning? It's pretty obvious that something is going on with poor kids besides their poverty.

    It's my experience that many children from low income homes typically have lower academic and emotional skills than many children from middle income homes. Lately these emotional skills have been called non-cognitive skills. This is an interesting (and well written) paper about these skills.

    http://chronicle.uchicago.edu/040108/heckman.shtml
     
  22. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Sounds like we're on the same page.

    Thanks for the link. That's interesting that folks are calling social, emotional, and behavioral skills "non-cognitive" considering they are absolutely cognitive. Very misleading. I agree with the overall finding, though, and it sounds like this is another point of agreement between us.
     
  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    :yeahthat: I was goofing my acronyms.
     
  24. indigo-angel

    indigo-angel Companion

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    Although many people have been successful in the traditional schooling model, many others have not. I think that we're so entrenched into this system that it's hard to think of alternative ways to educate people. I think as educators, it's callous to submit to the status quo simply because it is. Students (rich, poor, in the middle) who do the best academically do so because 1) they are encouraged to learn and their curiosity is nurtured at a young age 2) they spend time doing academic things such as reading and 3) they believe that it is important that they do academic things and do well in school. What the article is insinuating is that simply lacking resources won't hinder academic growth, but other things associated with poverty will (such as values and attitudes toward school).
     

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