Literacy 4-6

Systems Change
Literacy 4-6 > Factors > Socioeconomic Status

Socioeconomic Status

Factor Connections

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How Socioeconomic Status connects to...

Socioeconomic Status (SES) refers to a combination of factors, including education and income of a family compared to other families. Students raised in socioeconomically advantaged homes can have significant advantages in learning to read and write. Providing extra supports and resources can help create an equal foundation for all students.

Main Ideas

According to the National Center for Childhood Poverty, 21% of children in the United States live in families with incomes that are classified as below the federal poverty threshold. Furthermore, 43% of children live in low-income families where they have difficulty covering basic expenses, such as housing and food. Two additional issues arise from living in a low-income family:

  • Housing insecurity refers to high housing costs relative to income. This disparity can result in difficulty paying monthly rent and utilities, which in turn can lead to instability from being forced to move frequently and, in some cases, homelessness.
  • Food insecurity refers to lacking access to sufficient amounts of nutritious food.

The trauma of economic hardship and lack of resources at home and in the community can have long-term effects on academic achievement as students advance into the upper elementary grades and beyond. Research has shown that this trauma puts students at risk for developing weaker literacy skills in lower elementary grades compared to their peers living in middle or high SES homes. Research also demonstrates that students with low SES backgrounds are at higher risk for developing late-emerging difficulties with reading that may not appear until upper elementary or middle school.

Students in high-poverty schools also often receive minimal writing instruction, which can lead to poor writing outcomes. Nevertheless, when these students are provided with high quality writing instruction, they can become successful writers.

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