By: Inso Park
Reading, while regarded as a basic skill, is one of the most complex and important skills that one can possess. Students are taught to value reading and the education that they receive. However, something as simple as reading, although seemingly universal, has shown to have significant disparities among classes despite its influence on the academic achievement of students. If there are such significant disparities in reading comprehension, how big of a difference is there in overall learning? In order to answer this question, we need to investigate the factors that directly impact students’ ability to read and learn as a whole. There are a myriad of studies that point to personal characteristics, family socioeconomic status, teachers, and school characteristics as pivotal points that affect students’ reading ability and academic achievement. But despite all of these different factors, varying socioeconomic status is arguably the most significant of them all.
Socioeconomic status affects our society because it can give advantages to those with better living conditions. Some of these include improved physical and mental health. Studies have found that a lower socioeconomic status correlates with lower educational achievement, poverty, and poor health. Many countries are faced with this major problem with disparity between different social standings only increasing everyday. Reducing the gaps in socioeconomic status is important if we want to increase the focus on education and level the difference in the quality of education that different students are receiving.
A socioeconomic background is a combination of an individual’s income, occupation, and social background. A student’s socioeconomic status and background is a key determinant of success and changes in their distant future. Students’ backgrounds affect them because it determines how many opportunities they are given. Depending on where they live and the school they attend, other students may be put at a significant advantage over their counterparts at other competing schools. It has been found that, on average, a student who attends a school in a higher average socioeconomic status enjoys a better education experience and outcome compared to their peers in areas of lower socioeconomic status.
Although it is evident that students in poorer areas receive lower levels of education, this disparity continues on into other parts of their lives. Students from lower socioeconomic areas, if they attend in the first place, tend to attend less prestigious colleges than their peers. This is a result of their background and the fact that those areas do not tend to prioritize education. Studies have shown that not only is there lower academic achievement, but there is also slower rates of academic progress as compared to areas with higher levels of socioeconomic standing. Children from low level families typically enter high school with average literacy skills five years behind others and the dropout rate was the highest in low income families as well. The success rate of low-income students in the STEM field was much lower than those of students who do not come from an underrepresented background. Finally, individuals within the lowest family income quartile are 8 times less likely to attain their bachelor’s degree. Lower socioeconomic status not only affects students as minors, but it also bleeds into other parts of their lives and affects them in the long run as well.