Factors That Impact Student Achievement
Family Structure and Dynamics
Family structure and dynamics are some of the factors that have a significant impact on student’s academic achievements. According to Grant and Stronge (2013), students who are single-parented tend to have more challenges achieving success than those with both parents. It is so because of the instability characterized by single parenting. Stronge (2013) explains that most families with one parent often experience financial challenges.
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Instead of having two adults working closely towards the upbringing of the children, the mother or the father will be expected to do everything. The need to take two or three jobs limits the time that such a parent would have with the student to understand the challenges they face at school. The emotional strain is often reflected in the performance of the student.
Gender Identity or Expression
Gender identity or expression is one of the least explored factors that have a significant impact on a student’s performance. A male or female student who is comfortable with assigned sex at birth may have no serious gender identity problems. However, Stronge (2013) explains that those whose gender expression conflicts with the assigned gender at birth may have a lot of socio-emotional problems which will be reflected in their academics. They feel they belong to another gender and can do nothing about it. Some suffer in silence while others talk about it despite the criticism they may be subjected to by society (Koellner & Jacobs, 2015). Whether they decide to express their feelings or not, the mental torture that is associated with this problem is often reflected in their academics.
According to Grant and Stronge (2013), the United States is one of the most culturally-diverse countries in the world. Diversity has raised a lot of concern in many schools. Racism is still a major problem in this society. Stronge (2013) explains that systems in the academic sector make it easier for a white student to be successful than any other race in the country. For instance, when an African American and a white student score the same grade in high school, chances are high that the white student will be admitted to a better university than the African American.
The socio-economic status of a family defines the ability of a student to achieve academic success. Students from rich families are often taken to private schools where they have all the resources they may need to achieve success. In these private institutions, pupil-to-teacher is very low. It makes it possible for the student to be given personal attention by the academic staff. On the other hand, students from low-income families often go to public schools with limited resources (Spears, 2015). Some have to work after school to support their families. They lack most of the resources needed and have to rely on public and school libraries.
Sexual orientation is another issue that affects students, especially in high school and colleges when they start to understand their sexuality. Jensen (2013) explains that many learners often struggle with sexual orientation considered abnormal in society. The American society has made significant steps in accepting lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) as members of the society with the right to embrace their sexual orientation (Koellner & Jacobs, 2015). However, many people still view them as abnormal individuals who have no place in this society (Hastedt, 2016). When a student realizes that he or she is a homosexual, dealing with the problem may affect his or her academic performance.
Promoting Academic Success for All Students
School Counseling Strategies
A school needs to have counseling strategies for promoting academic development. Students often face different issues that may affect their academic success. Having both prevention and intervention strategies may be crucial in helping students who are almost giving up on their studies. Prevention strategies may help students who are yet to become adversely affected by these issues. According to Grant and Stronge (2013), one of the prevention strategies that can help in promoting academic success is to embrace an open-door policy of managing students.
This strategy involves creating avenues through which students can reach out to their teachers to explain the challenges they face at home. Spears (2015) explains that when implementing this strategy, the management of the school will need to introduce suggestion boxes within the school specifically meant for addressing personal issues affecting students. Learners will be encouraged to use these boxes to express issues affecting them at home or school.
This can be done once every month. The school counselors will be required to go through every note to understand the issues explained by the student. If necessary, the student will be invited by the counselor to find ways of addressing the problem before it can affect his or her academic progress. The proactive approach of dealing with socio-economic and emotional challenges of learners may help promote their academic performance.
In some cases, the problem that a student is going through may not be identified early enough, as demonstrated in the case above. Intervention strategies will be needed in such instances. Counselors should have regular sessions with students, at least once a week, to discuss the importance of academic success. In such lessons, the counselor will talk about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, robbery, burglary, or any other deviant behavior.
Real-life cases should be given to the learners about the dangers of embracing specific behavioral patterns. Such lessons will be a warning to those who are already taking the wrong path. It will motivate these learners to pursue their academics despite challenges that they face both at home and in school. Other than the general class sessions meant for all students, the counselor should have a private talk with specific students who have demonstrated dropout signs. In this strategy, the focus will be given to specific issues that affect the ability of the learner to achieve academic excellence.
Collaboration with Other Stakeholders Can Mitigate Negative Effects
Promoting the academic success of students requires a close collaboration of various stakeholders. Managing the negative effects of social, family, and behavioral factors can help in promoting resiliency among the learners, and it may lead to improved academic performance. The following stakeholders have a role to play in mitigating the negative effects of the challenges discussed above.
Teachers have the best capacity to identify if a student is going through depression or behavioral change that may affect his or her studies. Failure to complete assignments, a sudden drop in academic performance, and difficulty in following instructions are some of the early indicators that the student has emotional or behavioral issues that need to be addressed (Koellner & Jacobs, 2015). When detected, the teacher will be expected to work closely with the school counselor to find a solution to the problem.
The administration has a role to play in enhancing the academic success of all students. The administrators are expected to create an environment where teachers and students can easily engage so that these issues can be identified and addressed at the earliest stage possible. The management of the school should also ensure that there are enough counselors that can handle the needs of students. Jensen (2013) explains that it is the responsibility of the administrators to ensure that there is a close collaboration between teachers and parents to enhance the academic success of students.
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The non-academic staff should also be involved actively in enhancing the performance of students. Security officers can help identify students who come late to school or those who try to sneak out. The non-academic staff may also notice abnormal behavior among students. They should be encouraged to report such cases to the administrators to facilitate immediate response.
Parents may not be spending a lot of daytime with their children, but they have a major role to play in enhancing their academic success. Vigdor, Ladd, and Martinez (2014) explain that parents are expected to monitor the academic performance of their students. They should supervise their children’s homework and go through the comments made by teachers. When necessary, they should talk with teachers to understand what they need to do to enhance the success of their children. Parents should also remain committed to ensuring that all the materials needed by their children at home and school are made available.
Members of the community have a role to play in promoting the academic success of students. As Ronfeldt, Farmer, McQueen, and Grissom (2015) observe, the community should not be quiet when they see students engaging in activities that may compromise their studies. They should not only warn them but also report such incidences to the administrators so that corrective measures can be taken.
Grant, L., & Stronge, J. (2013). Student achievement goal setting: Using data to improve teaching and learning (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Hastedt, D. (2016). Mathematics achievement of immigrant students. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
Jensen, E. (2013). Engaging students with poverty in mind: Practical strategies for raising achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Koellner, K., & Jacobs, J. (2015). Distinguishing models of professional development: The case of an adaptive model’s impact on teachers’ knowledge, instruction, and student achievement. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(1), 51-67.
Ronfeldt, M., Farmer, S.O., McQueen, K., & Grissom, J.A. (2015). Teacher collaboration in instructional teams and student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 52(3), 475 – 514.
Spears, A. (2015). School funding and student achievement: Lessons learned from Kentucky and Tennessee. Nashville, TN: Springer.
Stronge, J. (2013). Effective teachers=student achievement: What the research says (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Vigdor, J.L., Ladd, H.F, & Martinez, E. (2014). Scaling the digital divide: Home computer technology and student achievement. Economic Inquiry, 52(3), 1103-1119.