Source URL: View the book at the Plural Publishing website

Roseberry-McKibbin provides an overview of factors to consider when examining the performance of children who come from low socioeconomic status backgrounds.

Summary: In this introduction, Roseberry-McKibbin examines poverty’s varied effects on child growth and development, beginning prenatally and continuing into the school years. She argues that families in the professional class are afforded different opportunities from those living in poverty, thus impacting future possibilities. Two case studies are presented of boys of the same age, one from a family of parents with advanced degrees, the other from a family of agricultural workers. The child from the middle to high socioeconomic status (SES) family is exposed to advanced vocabulary that may “get him ahead”, and his family prioritizes future planning and emphasizes positive behavioral change as punishment for negative actions. Thus, his background supports his development. The child from the low SES background, however, does not have exposure to the same academic vocabulary or books; his family prioritizes immediate survival over future planning, and exhibits forgiveness of negative behaviors rather than enforcing change. All of these things impact the growth, development, and ultimate outcome of this child. As a result, Roseberry-McKibbin calls for broad changes in the educational system and intervention at the community level in order to bring awareness to and subsequently reduce some of the factors that place low SES children at higher risk for academic failure. Some of these changes include implementing state and federal policies, developing problem prevention strategies such as reduction of teen pregnancy and job training, and creating education systems to promote higher quality of life in the community.

Importance: Children from low SES backgrounds are afforded different opportunities from other children hailing from higher SES backgrounds. Because of of their culture and environment, they have unique values and perspectives, and unique exposure to life experiences. For example, these children may place value on an external locus of control and may feel that they have no power over themselves as a consequence of their culture and environment. When conventions of society as a whole are determined by people of middle or high SES, people from low SES are often placed at a disadvantage. In the field of education, low SES children are held to standards set by individuals in a higher SES, which assume exposure to academics and experiences they often do not have. When working in areas populated by people from low SES, however, we as educators and clinicians have the opportunity to provide these children with the exposure they need to bridge the achievement gap. Currently, the federal government and educational institutions across the nation are working to implement policies and procedures in an effort to equalize educational opportunity (e.g., Response to Intervention, charter schools, community outreach programs). It is our job as clinicians and educators to ensure fidelity of service and implement these programs as stringently as possible. Furthermore, it is imperative that we as clinicians and educators understand and are sensitive to the culture and lifestyle of these students, and understand how varying backgrounds may be reflected in behavior, attitude, character, and performance. Only in this way can educators and clinicians provide efficient and culturally sensitive services to meet the needs of these children and attempt to afford them the opportunities they need to succeed.

Roseberry-McKibbin, C. (2008). Introduction to poverty: Variables affecting students’ performance. Increasing the language and academic skills of children in poverty: Practical strategies for professionals. San Diego: Plural Publishing.