Dr. David S. Benders
National FORUM of Teacher Education Journal, Fall Issue 2009-2010
Editor: Dr. William Allan Kritsonis
The concept of parental influence on the academic achievement levels of their children is a topic of discussion. A clear articulation of the level of influence is not clear yet; many researchers have suggested a statistical significance exists (Desimone, 1999; Mistry, Vandewater, Huston, & McLoyd, 2002; Roberts, Jurgens, & Burchinal, 2005).
The right to a free and public education from Kindergarten to Grade 12 is available to all citizens of the United States. However, this right does not guarantee that the education provided by this public educational system is equal for all of the participants (Mittler, 1999). Davis-Kean (2005) asserted that parents with moderate to high incomes and college degrees have beliefs and expectations that are similar to those of low-SES families regarding the actual performance of their children; however, Davis-Kean actually found that low-SES families have slightly higher expectations and performance beliefs that do not correlate well with their children’s actual school performance. This conclusion asserted that parents in low-SES families realize the value of their children’s academic achievement and attempt to assert that value into their children of higher academic achievement requirements.
“It is indeed true that children, African American or White, who grow up in impoverished households or in impoverished communities generally attain less in school” (Wood, 2003, p. 89). As Wood commented, “If African Americans and Whites performed equally well in high school, the demands for racial preferences and minority set-asides would very likely vanish” (p. 90). A common thread of discussion in the literature was the influence of parental involvement in the lives of children. Wood suggested that there is a correlation between parental involvement and students’ academic achievement.
Purpose of the Article
The purpose of this investigation is to examine the influence of parents on children’s academic performance from low income families and to explore the behaviors and attitudes of these children toward academic achievement. The referenced literature suggests that parents from low-income families have high expectations of their children’s academic development; however, this expectation is not transferring to performance of the students. This target population of low income families has found to perpetuate an idea of achievement without the actuality of performance to attain levels of academic achievement. This article will explore parental expectations, family involvement, and parental backgrounds of only low-SES families to investigate the influence of parents on the students’ academic achievement level.
Effect of Poverty on Achievement
Ku (2001) conducted a cross-sectional study of adulthood educational attainment of children whose parents had received some sort of welfare for a period. Ku used studies by the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from 1968-1997 to support
the theory that welfare has a negative effect on the educational attainment of children. Further, Ku cited Blank (2000) and Haider, Schoeni, Bao, and Danielson (2004) to show the negative impact of welfare on children. Ku and Plotnick (2003) concluded that the utilization of welfare by parents directly affects the educational attainment of children as family income is a variable that influence student academic performance.
Ku’s (2001) studied the correlation between educational attainment and the receipt of welfare benefits at certain ages. Ku showed that although the parental units may have received welfare at some point, the children would have had different age frames when the welfare payments were obtained. Potentially, one sibling may not be affected by the receipt of welfare by the family, that is a family that utilizes welfare benefits while