Low-Income Students and the Socioeconomic Composition of Public High Schools
University of Texas at Austin
Potential problems suggested by the "frog pond" perspective about the effects of socioeconomic desegregation in nonachievement domains.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
American Sociological Review
Vo.74, No. 5, pp. 709-730
- As the proportion of the student body with middle or high income parents increased, low-income students progressed less far in math and science. Moreover, as the proportion of the student body with middle or high income or college educated parents increased, low-income students experienced more psychological problems. Patterns were often more pronounced among African american and Latino students.
- Findings suggest curricular and social psychological mechanisms of oft-noted frog pond effects in schools and extend the race-ethnicity framework beyond achievement itself to demographic statuses perceptually linked to achievement.
- Low-income students reached significantly lower levels of science in medium (versus low) family income schools and marginally lower levels of math. This disadvantage is even bigger in high family income schools. The students in the high (versus low) family income schools also had more negative self-images after weighting.
- When low-income students differed in academic and psychosocial functioning across schools, those in medium and high family income schools usually looked worse.
- Low-income students of all races/ethnicities appear to have more psychosocial problems in medium and high parent education schools than in lower parent education schools, but causal inference is adequate for only the social isolation results.
- The risks of attending higher SES schools tend to be more common and pronounced for racial/ethnic minorities, and are occasionally confined to them as well.
- To the extent that low-income students face nonachievment risks in higher SES schools, low-income minority students are the most vulnerable.
- The relative curricular and psychosocial disadvantages of low-income students attending high-SES schools are more prevalent, pronounced, and racially variable when measuring school SES in terms of family income, rather than parent education.
- Achieving statistical representation in schools is not enough. Desegregation efforts must attend to the social integration of lower SES students, as well as their distribution across classes.
Journal Article Empirical Research
High School, Math, Racial Composition, SES, Science
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Propensity Score Matching
Unit of Analysis:
- Sample of public high schools in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
- Sample consists of 1,119 low income 9th to 11th graders in public high schools.
- IV: Low income status , school SES composition (family income, education parents), academic indicators (math course level, science course level, GPA), race-ethnicity.
- DV: Psychosocial indicators (negative self image, perceived isolation in the school, depression).
- The treatment is enrollment in a medium or high SES school, and the control is enrollment in a low-SES school.
- Variables used to make propensity scores are: gender, immigrant generation, measured ability, diagnosed learning disability, athletic participation, extracurricular activity participation, students' educational aspirations, prior negative self image, prior perceived social rejection, prior depression, math course level, science course level, overall grade point average(9th grade), parent education, family income, family structure, parents' educational aspirations, parental involvement in education, parent-adolescent closeness, home language use, chose community for schools, friends' academic achievement
- Purpose of the article is to analyze the degree to which low-income students' psychosocial adjustment and enrollment in advanced coursework decreases as the proportion of their public schools' student body with college-educated, middle- or high- income parents increase.