Socioeconomic Status

Children from families with low socioeconomic status make up a disproportionate number of those most at-risk for school failure (Knapp & Shields, 1990). These children often begin kindergarten with "significantly less implicit linguistic knowledge of books, as compared to well-read-to kindergartners" state Purcell-Gates, McIntyre, and Freppon (1995, p. 659).

Although children of low socioeconomic status may begin school with significantly different experiences and skills than their middle-class peers, research indicates that these children can catch up. In a study of kindergartners and first graders, Purcell-Gates, McIntyre, and Freppon (1995) found that by the end of first grade, those children who began school with less knowledge of books had caught up to their more-read-to peers.

Children from families of low socioeconomic status often attend schools facing other problems attributed to at-risk students. These schools typically have many students with high mobility rates, severe behavioral and emotional problems, and limited English proficiency. In addition, children of low socioeconomic status may come from culturally diverse backgrounds (Knapp & Shields, 1990).

Creating conditions for effective schooling for students who are at-risk and students of low socioeconomic status includes maximizing time on task, holding high expectations, establishing a school climate that is supportive of academic learning, and strengthening parental involvement and support (Knapp & Shields, 1990). (For additional information on educational strategies for at-risk students, refer to the Critical Issues "Providing Effective Schooling for Students at Risk"and "Rethinking Learning for Students at Risk.")


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