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place Essay

Paper type: Essay Pages: 7 (1716 words)

Views: 129

Based on studies and research within Title I programs, racial identity negatively impacting student academic success is highly probable. Improving education amongst low-income children has become a pressing topic for researchers, policymakers, and educators. Policy efforts to promote academic achievement among low-income children often focus on school-based investments such as increased teacher training, smaller class sizes for early grades, curriculum development (Gray & Thompson, 2004).

Researchers and educators also recognize that improving poorly performing schools requires comprehensive community building activities designed to strengthen the neighborhoods they serve (Gray & Thompson, 2004). The awareness that stems from decades of research demonstrating that neighborhood conditions, including racial segregation, influence children’s education outcomes, leads to growth-based initiatives that target specific low-income neighborhoods with comprehensive economic, social and educational resources from the public and private sectors (Gray & Thompson, 2004). There are seven factors that create dramatic differences between students with various income situations.

Health and Nutrition

Students in low income family homes are less likely to exercise, receive proper medical attention and be prescribed appropriate medications or interventions.

One study conducted by Gray & Thompson suggests that intelligence is often linked to health. Those in low income household are more likely than other household to have ear infections and hearing loss issues, greater exposure to lead and higher incidence of asthma (Gottlieb, Beiser, & O’Connor, 1995) compared to those in middle class children. These serious health issues can drastically detract from students’ attention, reasoning, learning and memory.

Receiving proper nutrients through a well-balanced diet plays an imperative role in student engagement in the classroom. Children who grow up in low-income household are given food with subpar nutritional value, which creates a daily nutrient deficit. Skipping breakfast is a prevalent within urban school districts and negatively affect student’s academic achievement through cognition and raising absenteeism (Basch, 2011). Poor nutrition during breakfast, resulting from low nutrient foods or skipping the meal altogether, creates grey areas in students’ brains. When children lack vital nutrients necessary for proper health, it becomes more difficult for them to listen, concentrate and learn. For instance, students with ear infections may have trouble hearing; this makes it difficult to listen to directions and instructions given by the teacher.

There are many solutions of to the lack of health and nutrition in low income households. One of these solutions is to increase the two primary foods for the brain, oxygen and glucose. When oxygen reacts with glucose, it produces energy for cell functions. Ensuring proper oxygen and glucose consumption is fundamental to brain functionality and student development. Schools can promote efficient nutrient use, a true service to students, without cost by having student engage in slow-stretching and breathing exercises to increase their oxygenation (Basch, 2011). Studies show that yoga exercises can increase the body’s natural metabolic control, so children are able to better manage their energy (Basch, 2011).

Vocabulary is another imperative factor that sets low-income students apart from others. Students who grow up in low-income conditions have a smaller vocabulary than middle-class children (Gottlieb, Beiser, & O’Connor, 1995). Children from low-income families hear, on average, 13 million words by the age of 4 (Gottlieb, Beiser, & O’Connor, 1995). Compared to children in middle class homes, who hear about 26 million within the same age range, the children from low-income backgrounds hear 50 percent less words. A child’s vocabulary is part of the brain’s tool kit for learning, memory and cognition. Words help students manipulate and retain information. When children do not have a firm grasp on basic language concepts, they often “tune out” and feel discouraged. The vocabulary deficit can be reduced through in-class activities such as the continuous introduction and use of new words by teachers. Throughout engagement activities, such class mixers and other creative activities, new vocabulary can be incorporated in daily routines.


A huge percentage of all children from poverty have a single parent caregiver. Most students growing up in single-family households in poverty experience insecurities and stress developing in the brain. In homes of those from poverty, children commonly get twice as many reprimands as positive feedback (1:2), compared with a 3:1 ratio of positives feedback to negative reprimands in middle class homes (Risley & Hart, 2006). If the parents or caregivers feel stressed about providing housing, food, and health care, it is more likely for them to be unhappy and less likely to offer positive comments to the students. Despite popular belief, two parents in the household provide backup for other another. When one parent is busy or overly stressed, the other can provide for the child so that there is stability. Low income parents are often less able than middle-class parents to adjust their parenting to demands of their higher-needs children (Paulussen-Hoogeboom, Stams, Hermanns & Peetsma, 2007). Failed or disruptive home relationships cause mistrust in students in the classroom. These students grow accustomed their caregivers failing them, which carries the negative cycle to the classroom. Since students do not have a stable home life, they are more likely to be impulsive, use inappropriate language and act disrespectful until this cycle is broken.

Students living in unstable homes need strong, positive and caring role models. The more the role model cares for the student, the better the foundation for interventions. It is imperative for the educator to build a repour with students, learning about their hobbies, their family, and their values. This helps fuel students’ dreams through positive affirmation. For example, if a student is having a rough day, simply ask the student to stay after for a couple minutes to discuss what is wrong. Never embarrass the student in front of the class. Instead, the teacher should reaffirm the relationship with the student, then demonstrate the desired behavior wanted by showing the student the proper facial expression or how to handle stressful situations properly. End the conversation by affirming common goals and interests by lines such as “we’re in this together”. As a result, a positive relationship accompanied by trust is built between the student and the teacher.


Children in low-income environments also deal with distress and chronic stress more often than children in affluent environments. Distress is defined as extreme anxiety, sorrow or pain (Webster). Low-income parents’ students affect their kids through chronic activation of their children’s immune systems, which taxes available resources and has long-reaching effects (Blair & Raver, 2012). Distress affects brain development, academic success and social competence (Evans, Kim, Tesher & Shannis, 2007). It also impairs behaviors; reduces attentional control (Liston, McEwen, & Casey, 2009); boosts impulsivity (Evans, 2003); and impairs working memory (Evans & Schamberg, 2009).

Distressed students usually exhibit two types of behavior, including anger or disconnect. The angry behavior is more assertive and “in your face” whereas disconnect is more passive and “leave me alone”. The more aggressive behavior includes disobeying the teacher by talking back, using inappropriate body language and facial expressions. The student may appear to be out of control, lazy or “having an attitude.” These behaviors are symptoms of stress disorders. In contrast, the passive behavior includes failing to respond to questions or request and slumping or disconnecting from peers or academic work. Uninformed teachers may think that poor low-income students slouch, slump and show little effort because of a learned behavior from their parents. However, research suggests that parents from low-income families work just as harder or even harder compared to those in middle and upper-class families. One reason many students may seem unmotivated or show little effort is due to a lack of hope and optimism. Low socioeconomic status and the accompanying financial hardships are correlated with depressive systems (Butterworth, Olesen, & Leach, 2012). Research from 60 high-poverty schools shows that the primary factor in student motivation and achievement is not the student’s home environment, but rather the school and instructor (Irvin, Meece, Byun, Farmer, & Hutchins, 2011). Effort can be taught. Strong teachers do this every day.

Students who show little to no effort are giving teachers much needed feedback. When a student likes their teacher, the student will work harder to impress their teacher. When learning gets the student excited, curious or intrigued then the student will put out more effort. This is a prime example of how some students work harder in one class than another because the student simply enjoys that class as well as the teacher more than the uninteresting class and teacher. It is imperative teachers invest in students who are not putting forth great effort. In a study of more than 1,800 children from poverty, school engagement was a key factor in whether the student stayed in school (Finn & Rock, 1997).

Once the issue is addressed, the symptoms will diminish over time when combined with the construction of a strong relationship between the student and teacher. This process will help alleviate the students’ stress. Reducing stress can be provided through temporary cognitive support by having them engage in such sensory motor activities as simple as “head-shoulders-knees and toes”. In this activity, the children touch different parts of their bodies in quick sessions, which supports behavioral regulation. Behavioral regulation is important for early academic success. Another solution could be not exerting more control over the students; this is only result in creating more issues with engagement. Instead it is recommended to give the students control over their own daily lives at school. Encourage responsibility and leadership by offering choices, engagement in projects and supporting teamwork. Maintaining a sense of control is one of the fundamental elements that helps diminish the effects of chronic stress. Lastly, teachers should offer coping skills, so students are able to learn how to better react when presented with a with stressful situation. For instance, consider the “If this, then that” strategy for solving problems using new skills. This technique can be implemented via teachers telling stories about their own daily stressors, allowing students to brainstorm solutions, thus resulting in the sharing and modeling them for various situations.

In conclusion, there is a direct effect of racial identity playing a factor in in academic outcomes. However, as an educator, it is our duty to invest in our students despite their racial identity or socioeconomic class. The students of today are the future engineers, educators, doctors, lawyers, etc. of tomorrow. Therefore, it is imperative to build healthy relationships along with confidence, hope and leaderships skills within students at an early age.

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