25 year study shows poverty as greatest determinant in children’s success

One student from the studyTwo John Hopkins professors tracked the scholastic and employment developments of 790 students via annual interviews conducted over 25 years from the time the students were 1st graders in Baltimore’s public school system until age 28. Their findings are disturbing, although certainly not surprising. The Washington Post article tell us,

A mere 4 percent of the first-graders Alexander and Entwisle had classified as the “urban disadvantaged” had by the end of the study completed the college degree that’s become more valuable than ever in the modern economy. A related reality: Just 33 of 314 had left the low-income socioeconomic status of their parents for the middle class by age 28.

And the John Hopkins HUB frames the research results a bit grimly:

In a groundbreaking study, Johns Hopkins University researchers followed nearly 800 Baltimore schoolchildren for a quarter of a century, and discovered that their fates were substantially determined by the family they were born into.

“A family’s resources and the doors they open cast a long shadow over children’s life trajectories,” Johns Hopkins sociologist Karl Alexander says in a forthcoming book, The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood. “This view is at odds with the popular ethos that we are makers of our own fortune.”

Alexander has sometimes been asked about the impact his team had on the lives of their subjects … if they

… followed the children long enough to learn something meaningful about their lives as independent adults. Occasionally, people ask him whether the study itself became an intervention. Did the presence of these curious researchers alter the course of any child’s life?

Alexander suspects that the forces they documented — the family backgrounds, the problem behaviors and the economic prospects — were much more powerful than any annual conversation.

“If it were that easy to reroute peoples’ life paths,” he says, “we should be doing it all the time for everyone.”

19 Replies to “25 year study shows poverty as greatest determinant in children’s success”

  1. Sally Gellert study is needed to prove to the people who believe the authorities that are destroying public ed with their misnamed and bogus “education reform”. You clearly have no idea what is going on and how destructive and effective the education destroyers are .. and how much support they get for doing something that really ought to be completely boycotted and super-illegal.

    Talking about I doubt … vis a vis law school acceptance and bar associations … excuse me but your statement is completely hypocritical. I’m sure you know for a fact that either acceptance is impossible in today’s society. Why would you even waste time making those statements?

    Re healthy food: it is a myth that healthy food takes longer to prepare and that people don’t have time to prepare it. A myth that unfortunately, way too many people have bought into.

  2. There is a documentary albums and I wish you guys would look at it its an hour and 45 minutes long if you just click on an hour and 20 minutes into the video you will see what I’m referring to!!! The most shocking psychiatry documentary ever!!! is the name on youtube like I said 120 minutes into the video if you click on that you will see what I’m referring to from that point watch it for about 15 to 20 minutes please I beg you if you don’t this whole conversation is useless because you don’t understand you need to see this video for yourself at least 15 minutes of it then maybe you watch it from the beginning let me know how it works for you please!!!

  3. LMBAO!!!! You guys really underestimate the system in which we live in!!! And that’s quite sad!!! If they had started helping these young black kids pull themselves up out of the situation they would have shut the program down immediately!!! I can’t believe you guys are defending this bullshit!!! The picture is so much larger blacks have proven themselves to have a natural superiority!!! And I’m going back thousands of years and when we were stripped of that and force to live under conditions that were so inhumane stripped of all pride in ourselves stripped of all families stripped of all manhood like I said the old divide and conquer Theory!!! It’s much bigger then what you are seeing!!! The black man is a threat and we’re really not it’s really a big enough pie what everybody can have a fair slice but these greedy bastards must have total control over everything I’m talking about the one percent that’s how big this bullshit is

  4. And there have been other studies showing the correlation of socioeconomic status and parental educational level with student outcomes. This tells us, once again, more has to be done for the families and parents here today so they can make a better environment for their child. Yet here we are, bashing schools and teachers, the easy scapegoat, instead of fixing the things that will make a tremendous difference.

  5. Charles Peller think on this: maybe millions of children can be helped because this study exists. No other data or statistics I’m aware of has demonstrated as well the truism that poverty exists such an enormous and defining effect on the academic and economic success of children

    … and the entire premise of the education “reform” (which isn’t reform at all, but destruction) movement that is being used to eradicate public education and sell off school buildings all around the country, is based on false claims that public education is the reason poor children cannot rise out of poverty.

  6. This is not a judgement as to whether a student is a good or bad person.
    For a student to escape from poverty, there is a minimum of 11 things needed:
    The will to get ahead
    At least minimal abilities
    The will to get ahead
    The self-confidence that he/she can get ahead
    The will to get ahead
    Time to study and practice
    The will to get ahead
    A mentor to encourage him/her
    The will to get ahead
    Food and shelter
    The will to get ahead

  7. Charles Peller, there were just under 400 students in this study. I’m not sure about the funding this study had but I doubt they could have helped more than one or two students a year, maybe 25 over the course of the study due to costs. However, with this research, the implications can help millions.

  8. Yes but they’re not stupid they knew they could have made a difference in these children’s lives yet they chose not to just to see what would happen in the years to come I’m sure they would told not to step in not to make a difference not to help these people that’s just the way they work the powers that be this is what they want!!! Look around you in the town of Ridgewood New Jersey there may be what 3 liquor stores I doubt if there’s more!!! And then let’s look at Paterson New Jersey a liquor store on every other corner!!! In Ridgewood they would not allow people to open more liquor stores because of city ordinances they knew what would that would create!!! Now patterson on the other hand they also knew what it would create and if you look at patterson today that plan worked perfectly!!! Divide and conquer!!!

  9. Without studies like this one, how will we ever know if the ASSUMPTIONS being made today are the correct one? Because of this we now know that education is not the great equalizer and there are greater systemic issues to tackle first. This is what we need to make those in control -politicians- accountable for what really can make a difference.

  10. That’s one way of looking at it Charles Peller, but another way is that baseline data is the most important asset any study can have … based on the premise that you cannot change what you cannot define.

  11. So studying these kids for all these years and once you realize that intervention is needed they never did??? WTF!!! They could have changed numerous kids lives if they had stepped in and did the right thing!!! I put this on the same level as the Tuskegee experiments!!! I guess I shouldn’t expect more from the world we live in it’s a very very sad world at the same time the study were probably done to make sure the plan was working and it sure was and it still is today this really pisses me off it just proves that it is their plan to keep people who are in poverty in poverty black as well as white obviously more so black!!! I am really disgusted right now

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