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Math 7-9 > Factors > Socioeconomic Status

Socioeconomic Status

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How Socioeconomic Status connects to...

Socioeconomic Status (SES) refers to a combination of factors, including a family's education and income compared to other families. Students raised in socioeconomically advantaged homes and/or who attend schools in high SES areas can have significant advantages in learning math skills.

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. Further, students from high SES homes are often exposed to more math talk, leading to more advanced Number Sense at the start of school. This achievement gap between students who are and are not from low-income homes may widen for math as students get older, often persisting in the middle years. Students in low-income classrooms often experience fewer conceptual and problem-solving instructional experiences in mathematics, which may also contribute to the achievement gap.

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