We share evidence-based K-12 learning strategies that empower you to improve education.
I work in a school that has 90% of our students on free or reduced lunch. These students come from homes where education is not always seen as something valuable. Those of my students that have parents that take an interest in their education and want their children to do well are those that perform better academically.
Cognitive studies demonstrate that there are differences in the way male and female brains perceive and process the context they sense.
Studies also show that our brains develop at different locations within the brain and at different rates.
Sex, er gender, has the greatest impact. The region of society that you emerge from has an impact that schools and their teachers can compensate for (the evidence is on the ground if you look, www.essemtialschools.org for example).
Family counts too - but it is not a total deal breaker.
I said socioeconomic status only because of the difficulty many of those parents have in assisting their children with educational sucess, either due to their own educational deficiencies or because of time constraints connected to their work schedules. But the bottom line as everyone is saying is PARENT INVOLVEMENT!
Ultimately there are many variables that play into this question. The real question is: Over which of these factors do we have the most control? [As an aside, it's interesting that we educators are still stuck on "performance" and NOT actual learning.]
What a student believes attributes to h/h success is of primary importance to how h/s performs. It doesn't stop there. If there is any question in a student's mind as to how s/h will do on a particular task that is of true challenge, s/h looks to a significant adult. Usually this significant adult is a parent/teacher/mentor. The words and actions of this significant adult can have an either a positive/negative/no impact on this student. This is NOT about our intent; the assumption is that we all want the best for our children. It is about the perception of the student and what s/h views as high/low expectations (e.g., body language, wait/think time, kinds of questions we ask, feedback...) or lack of personal relationship with the adult. Because this student has self doubts, our doubts may be the tipping point... The fact that we must first be conscious of this before we can prove the premise right/wrong is critical.
Carol Dweck has done extensive research on motivation. Her studies in addition to case studies of teachers that I teach validates what I have outlined over and over again. So as to not overwhelm teachers, we ask them to focus on 1 student who is not meeting standard and to examine the strengths and circumstances under which she/he learns best. We then ask them to select strategies that we model in the course that they believe will best match this student. One of the 5 strategies they MUST do is attribution retraining. These case studies help teachers see the impact of their actions on their case study student (and, not coincidently , on others in the same classroom). The fact that these teacher have taken the time to do this case study and reflect on the impact helps them feel they have control. The teacher's tenacity, professionalism, and beliefs about learning and achievement all play a roll in this.
It's not as simple as economics. As the comments above state, it's parental involvement, and the culture which influences the degree of that involvement, that makes the difference. It's a telling fact that Asian students are successful, even when they come from financially challenged families. Their culture places great value on education and on excelling. If that was the case across the entire spectrum of cultures in the U.S., students would succeed regardless of economic status.
Helping with homework is not always the most desirable way to help your child get ahead. The students from the financially stable families may have parents who are trying to teach them to work independently. This may not result in better grades, but it may stand them in good stead once they leave school and get jobs.
I believe that children who are in a lower socioeconomic class are at a disadvantage. This may have nothing to do with whether or not their parents can help them with their homework. Parents may be working long hours and may not have enough time to develop a relationship with their child. Single parents who work with their child every night may be helping with the homework, but they are also developing a relationship with the child. Also, parents in the lower socioeconomic class may not be able to afford tutors, music lessons, etc. and they may not be able to give their children the cultural and educational experiences that help improve their school performance. Some parents in lower socioeconomic classes find ways to compensate for this. Public libraries and other organizations offer many free educational programs for children. It always floors me when parents don't take full advantage of these programs.
I have found over the last 35 years that the importance placed on education by the parents is more of a factor than either sex, race, or socioeconomic status. I have had the pleasure of teaching all levels of students and the parent's respect for education makes the greatest difference.
I teach in a school where students are ability grouped in reading and if you look at the "low" class they are ALL poor, and all but two of them are boys. This was also the case last year and the year before. Boys are not ready for school at the same age as girls and students who come from poor families do not always have the vocabulary, background experiences and support needed to succeed in school. However- two of my poorest kids also have the highest reading scores (both are girls). I think both gender and economics play a part in school success.
Despite socioeconomic background and gender, parent involvement is the deal breaker. I've had plenty of students from financially stable backgrounds who never get help on homework, and single parents who have minimum wage jobs who work with their kids every night...guess who has the advantage in class...the kid who mother HELPS them get ahead, instead of just talking about it.
After 40+ years in dealing with students, teachers and pre-service teachers I have concluded that the expectations of the culture the family embraces has the greatest impact on student performance. This is the culture within the family which might be very different from the culture they identify with on a survey.