Socioeconomic Factors Affecting Education

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Education provides individual children with the knowledge and skills necessary to advance themselves and their nation economically. Socioeconomic factors, such as family income level, parents' level of education, race and gender, all influence the quality and availability of education as well as the ability of education to improve life circumstances.

Family Income Level

  • A family's financial status influences a number of factors that can help or hinder a child in gaining an education. Wealthy families have the financial resources to send a son or daughter to high-quality schools, hire tutors and obtain supplemental education sources. In some countries, students from low-income families may not even be able to attend school; in the U.S., low-income families are limited mostly to public schools while wealthier families can afford to send their children to private schools. Financial stress on the parents can cause a child to leave school early to work. Worries about financial hardship at home can negatively affect low-income children's ability to learn.

Parents' Level of Education

  • Parents' education level directly correlates to the importance and influence of education in their children's lives. Educated parents can assess a son or daughter's academic strengths and weaknesses to help that child improve overall academic performance. The educated parent also sets expectations of academic performance that propel students forward in their achievement levels. However, even if educated, parents who struggled academically and do not think highly of formalized education may have negative attitudes toward education that can still hinder the child academically.

Gender

  • The availability of education to girls and women varies by country. Restrictions on education for girls and women are based on gender bias prevalent with the culture. Some cultures will allow education for girls and women but limit the content of the education or skew the education to prepare them for a limited number of social roles. In the United States, the availability of education to girls and women expanded to become coeducational in most schools within the 20th century.

Race

  • While race is not a predictor of how a student will perform in school, African American students have trailed behind European American students in reading and mathematics. This phenomenon may occur less because of race and more as a result of family income level. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 seeks to improve academic performance for students in predominantly African American or Hispanic schools by placing an emphasis on teacher quality and performance.

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