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The Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Student Achievement

by Lucy Hart

Each year students attend schools that represent a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Socioeconomic status refers to the level of education, income, and professionalism of an individual or group. Although students of higher and lower socioeconomic statuses both attend school, the effect of lower socioeconomic status on student achievement is difficult to ignore. Students of a lower socioeconomic status often face additional challenges including a dearth of learning resources, difficult learning conditions and poor motivation that negatively affect their academic performance.

Learning Resources

Families with a lower socioeconomic status often struggle with providing academic support for their children. Limited time and financial resources make it difficult for parents to create a home-based learning environment. Parents in a low socioeconomic household cannot afford reading materials, technology and tutors for their children. When children do not have a positive learning environment at home, it negatively affects their academic achievement level in school.

School Environment

School environment plays a profound role in academic achievement for low socioeconomic status children. Teacher turnover, limited resources and low academic performance are all characteristics of schools in lower socioeconomic communities. Consequently, highly-qualified teachers often avoid such schools by committing to more affluent school communities, leaving low socioeconomic status children with teachers who often lack expertise in their subjects.

Academic Achievement

Lower socioeconomic status students often display difficulty with language skills and struggle with reading. In comparison to higher socioeconomic status children, they are not as accurate when completing mathematical tasks such as word problems or addition and subtraction. As schools become aware of low student performance, students are often assigned to lower school tracks. Consequently, students on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are forced to take lower level courses or vocational courses that do not necessarily prepare them for higher education. Lower socioeconomic status ultimately contributes to lower academic performance and slower rates of academic progress.


Students in lower socioeconomic communities are more likely to exhibit behavior-related learning problems because they feel as if they do not belong in school due to their working class background. These feelings of loneliness and inadequacy often influence the decision to drop out for many students. Additionally, as low socioeconomic status students become aware of high college tuition fees, they often lose the motivation to perform well due to their inability to pay for higher education, ultimately affecting the influence of socioeconomic status on student achievement.

About the Author

Lucy Hart has been a writer and educator since 2007. In her spare time, Hart works as an associate editor for Nile Publishing, and she has currently finished completing her first manuscript. She received the Rookie Teacher of the Year award during her first year of teaching. She holds a Dual Bachelors Degree in English and Education.

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