Friday, March 03, 2006

SES and student achievement - new meta-analytic review

White's (1982) meta-analytic review of the relation between SES and student achievement has often been cited as the seminal source on the empirical relationship between SES and school achievement, issues in measuring SES in reseach, etc. Now White's seminal review has been updated by a contemporary meta-analysis by Sirin (2005) in the Review of Educational Research (click here to view entire article - note...file is 2+ MB). This article is must reading for educational researchers and those who develop and standardize psychoeducational assessment batteries.

Although you can read the entire article by clicking the URL above, a few highlights are presented below.
  1. Using Cohen's (1977) guidelines, the overall ES of the present study reflects a medium level of association between SES and academic achievement at the student level and a large degree of association at the school level.
  2. Of all the factors examined in the meta-analytic literature, family SES at the student level is one of the strongest correlates of academic performance. At the school level, the correlations were even stronger. This review's overall finding, therefore, suggests that parents' location in the socioeconomic structure has a strong impact on students' academic achievement. Family SES sets the stage for students' academic performance both by directly providing resources at home and by indirectly providing the social capital that is necessary to succeed in school. Family SES also helps to determine the kind of school and classroom environment to which the student has access
  3. Beyond the main findings, the results from this review also show that the magnitude of the relationship between SES and academic achievement is contingent upon several factors. More specifically, methodological characteristics, such as the type of SES measure, and student characteristics, such as student's grade, minority status, and school location, moderated the magnitude of the relationship between SES and academic achievement.
  4. The authors conclude that researchers must continue to assess student's SES as part of their understanding of family effects on academic performance. The decision about how to measure SES, however, is a complicated one. On the basis of the results from this meta-analysis, the following points may help researchers to better capture students' social and economic background in education research and test development plans.
  • The unit of analysis is of critical importance.
  • SES is a multi-dimensional construct, and different components yield different results. The use of participation in school lunch programs as a measure of SES, though common,is conceptually problematic.
  • Only a small number of studies considered neighborhood characteristics as part of their assessment of students'social and economic background.
  • SES seems to have different meanings for students from different ethnic backgrounds. One of the main findings of this review was that, for minorities, SES did not seem to be as strongly related to academic achievement as it was for Whites.
  • It is important to decide from whom the SES data should be collected. As the results show, studies that collect SES data from students yield much smaller correlations with achievement than do studies that collect data from parents.
  • The location of schools should be an integral part of research on students' SES and academic achievement. Without consideration of the geographical location of the school, the observed correlations between SES and academic achievement are likely to confound the differences between rural, urban, and suburban schools. [Blogmaster note - this is often one of the most important (yet one of the least controlled) variables in the development of a norming plan for the standardization of cognitive and achievement tests. Community SES information, as well as individual level SES information, should be included in the sampling design plan of any major cognitive and/or achievement battery. Community SES has always been a critical component of the sampling plans of the three editions of the Woddock-Johnson (WJ) battery (1977, 1989, 2001) - conflict of interest note----I'm a coauthor of the WJ III).

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments: