Effects of Low Income Communities on Parents' Perceptions of School Quality

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There is a lot of discussion surrounding the topic of education, namely the issues of teacher quality, educational inputs, financial resources for students, and student assistance. However, the majority of study has focused on the issue of the school environment. The question of whether the geographic areas where teenagers and other young people dwell has been the subject of research in several fields. Parents frequently worry about the level of education that can be provided in a school in a specific area. Neighborhoods are often thought to be very relevant for the young people while they develop. They spend most of their time living, interacting, and involving themselves in different activities within the neighborhoods.

Education appears to be connected with the aspect place. Similar to any other public service, schools are embedded in these blocks, and the nature of neighborhoods shapes the opinion of parents on the quality of education to be provided in the institution. For most parents, the idea of a school being located within a safe walk or a cycle where all the neighborhood children are engaged in learning and playing is very significant to their perception of school quality. This study explores the extent to which neighborhoods affect school, the characteristics of the neighborhoods and their consequences on the quality of education for students. The study will also look at previous works that are relevant to the study and the methodology to be used in the research project. I will explain my position in the paper and the importance of expanding the knowledge on the topic.

Problem Statement

Living in a poor neighborhood affects the manner in which parents perceive the quality of schools. The responsibility of families in the lives of the young people defines the transmission of the neighborhood effects to them. There is a notion that there are direct effects of the neighborhood environment on children and they are indirectly affected by the influence of the neighborhood on parenting alongside other family factors. The neighborhood environment may impact on the school outcomes either positively or negatively given that the local attitudes about the value of schooling depends on other factors.

Several studies have investigated the link that exists between the parental association and the economic status as well as that of the children. It is indisputable that there is a link between these two aspects. However, the strengthening link is in question. One of these relationships is that of the difference in the neighborhoods that are inhabited different families in diverse points of a social and economic ranking (Andersson & Malmberg, 2015). Educated families are more likely to reside in the neighborhoods with persons that are more educated. Therefore, if communities that are educated do matter, parents are likely to have a different view of the quality of schools depending on their locality.

This study focuses on the relationship between living in a poor neighborhood and the quality of education in schools. Elements such as the school environment and resources are taken into account. The results from this study will be relevant in the society where the quality of the school has been shaped by the nature of neighborhood in which it is located. In turn, an emphasis on solutions to the technicalities of learning in a weak area has to be addressed to suppress the negative perception. Studying the impact of the low-income neighborhoods on the perception of school quality is vital to creating an understanding of the kind of challenges that students in high poverty schools face. The environment is essential in shaping this perception, and the experience of many people growing up in poor neighborhoods and attending the classes there shows that they hardly achieve their goals due to poor learning and inadequate resources. The social significance of this study is to ensure that there are no disparities amongst people and schools that are located in poor neighborhoods should receive necessary support for equal education quality.

Literature Review

The impact of neighborhoods on the quality of education has been subject to different discussions. From a theoretical perspective, the sorting of individuals into regions and the residential mobility is a crucial determiner of the human capital production (Hedman, 2012). Some of the researchers tend to argue that the environments that children grow in their early childhood in combinations with the attributes of the parents and the influence of different outcomes affect the children in much later development. The Developmental theory and study of the failure of students in schools suggest that there is an essential influence on early development particular when it comes to the educational achievements (Slavin, 2013). Other researchers argue that disadvantaged neighborhoods are likely to have adverse effects on the developments of adolescents and thence depriving students of the positive peer influence.

The improvement in literature tends to reflect the emergence of strong qualitative evidence that demonstrates the different means in which neighborhoods impacts on the school process and quality. Nieuwenhuis and Hooimeijer, describe the situation as an intricate and intimate connection between the school management and the socioeconomic as well as discursive contexts in which they operate. In her study of a London school, there was evidence that the teaching staff spend most of their time teaching curriculum as well as extra curricula activities, although there was limited involvement of parents in the activities (Nieuwenhuis & Hooimeijer, 2016)

Kauppinen (2007) used a sample of youths in research in Helsinki to test whether the neighborhood conditions affected the way students complete secondary school, the kind of secondary school diploma to be attained, that is, whether they are academically oriented, or they are vocational. From these research findings, Kauppienen (2008) made a further exploration of the neighborhood effects on Helsinki and realized that his conclusions were in line with that of Brannstrom (2008) and different theoretical discussions. It was evident from the research that unique neighborhood effects and the difference in the income status affect the quality of the school. Students from high-status regions may proceed with education in the secondary academic system compared to those from the low-income neighborhoods.

In the discussion of the effects of living in a low-income neighborhood on the quality of education, it is import to consider the variations on how low income may be defined and measured. In most countries, the qualifications for a student to have a Free and Reduced-Price Meal are normally the proxy of one to have a low-income status. Such conditions may present a more significant challenge in learning. For this reason, parents have an unfavorable view towards the quality of education to be offered in such a school. Living in a low-income neighborhood has a direct impact on the academic progress and achievement of any student. Baker, Schierra & Farrie (2014) argue that students from poor neighborhoods are likely to have language gaps, summer learning loss, as well as attendance and motivation issues.

First, in low-income neighborhoods, students are likely to experience a significant language gap when compared to other students. In a research conducted by Stanford psychologist Anne Fernald, she and other researcher followed up on previous research on the issue of socioeconomic status and language development. They found that socioeconomic status has a significant impact on the language proficiency a well as language processing rates (Fernald, Marchman &Weislender, 2013). When students enter school, they come along with a speech that has been taught by their parents. When these students meet up with a class with reduced resources, it becomes difficult for them to adapt to the nature of studying hence they end up having a poor quality of education.

Poverty as a result of inadequate levels of income affects not only the students but also the entire school and different districts. According to a report by Coleman in 1966, “concentrated poverty is likely to depress the achievements of school-wide and district-wide basis. Students who attend urban high poverty schools are expected to come from the poor and unemployed neighborhoods (Bischoff & Reardon, 2014). Parents tend to doubt the quality of education for their students especially when they attend high-poverty schools. It is because students get lower motivations and have difficulty in identifying studies that could be important. Orfield & Lee, (2005) state that the absence of significant peer influences could affect the performance of students in high-poverty schools.

The American mythology has continuously insisted that the education is the only path for those who live below the poverty line. However, the training offered in poor and public schools tend to receive insufficient funds and resources that make them less competitive compared to the middle and upper-income students. Wirt et al. (2004) state that classes in high-poverty schools teachers are most likely to be credentialed in subjects that are easier.

There are stress theories that define the structural conditions that students in poor neighborhood schools have to cope with. Evans & Kim (2013), argue that these institutions have poor conditions like dirty bathrooms and physical decays that acts as stereos to undermine the ability of students to concentrate on their studies. Lack of concentration or poor on-task behavior is a clear indicator of the fact that students in these schools have poor motivation and students are disengaged from one another. Galster et al, (2016), state that students have to receive support to academically develop. For instance, in an initiative by Project Hiller to provide laptops and wireless access in the high-poverty schools was helpful in increasing the performance of standardized test scores, technological literacy, and the student motivation.


This research seeks to find out the reasons why living in poor neighborhood influences the views of parents towards the quality of schools. Schools that are located in low-income neighborhoods are most likely to experience poor infrastructure and resources that may lead to the failure of students. Poor schooling affects the performance of students. Therefore, this research seeks to find the opinion of people who live in low-income neighborhoods especially those who are from the isolated communities of Hispanics, African Americans, and the Asian who are mostly affected by race and other factors. The research is also going to cover the schools in high-income neighborhoods to establish the distinct difference and the main reason for the negative view of parents on quality of schools.

The types of research that will be employed in this study are both the qualitative and quantitative research. The aim of using a qualitative research is to collect or gather enough information to develop an in-depth understanding of the impact of low, poor neighborhoods on the quality of education in schools. This discipline tries to investigate the “why” and “how” of poverty on education. Apart from that, the research will also examine different phenomena through the observation of numerical representations as well as the examination of statistical data. The research will also use questionnaires to be handed out to respondents. The data will be used in the mathematical representation of the findings from the entire study. Interviews with the experts in the field of education will also be used.

Sampling Method

The use of sampling method in the study will be randomized to obtain a more scientific research and that which can represent the entire population of students in high-poverty schools. A list of all the schools in the low-income neighborhood in Alaska will be acquired. The conditions of the schools from the region will be the target source for the respondents in the research. The ministries of education and districts will be contacted to obtain consent to research the institutions. A letter of approval will also be sent to the board of directors with an attachment of the sample of a questionnaire to be used in the research alongside a protocol that will be observed by the analysis.


The research respondents will be from a single location that is Alaska, especially those who will be randomly selected. From this research, Alaska has been chosen because of the National research that indicates that most of the low-income earners are from this regions and mainly experience racial disparities. The randomly selected students and parents will be asked for consent and approval to answer the questions from the questionnaire. The research will also seek the opinion of experts to help provide explanations regarding the respondents’ reason for different responses.


The questionnaire will require comprehensive information on the socioeconomic status (SES) of the students and parents. It also contains information on the kind of education offered in the school, the resources, and the environment that students develop in.

My views on this topic are that low-income neighborhoods often harbor parents who are less educated and are likely to be living below the poverty line. The children from these families fail to get enough support from their parents, and they are likely to be admitted to the high-poverty schools within the neighborhood. Parents have no option but to school their children in these institutions. However, they often have an unfavorable view of the quality of education that is offered in these schools because of most students of the college, most likely end up in the same cycle of poverty. I think that my views on this type might slightly compromise the study. However, I am open-minded and willing to analyze the data as provided by the respondents without bias.


The issue of educational inequality due to poor neighborhoods has in the recent past been attracted numerous studies, but no conclusive solutions have been structured. This research is relevant in finding out the reasons why the quality of education in poor neighborhoods is poor to structure policies to be applied. Schools are an essential tool for all children and equalizing the quality of schooling across the regions should be an important element in the reduction of the educational gap amongst children. Although socioeconomic inequalities still pose a challenge for many, it is crucial that schools and any other social institutions have equal resources across the country. According to a proposal by the Government in 2005, the White Paper (DfES, 2005) suggests how schools in the low-income neighborhoods can be improved through the combination of investments and conduction of reforms within the schools. Non-school blocks could probably yield a difference in the economic opportunities. Therefore, equalizing the conditions in communities through the use of renewable strategies could generate several educational advantages.

Parental isolation and the presence of inadequate resources, high levels of crime, stigmatized environments, and poor educational facilities could affect the opportunities for learning. It is therefore evident that neighborhoods with safer environments and safe playing grounds, family learning and open interaction of children and parents might improve the quality of education. From the literature review, it is clear that the issue of education quality has been a subject of debate in poor neighborhoods over the years. It is therefore necessary from more studies on possible solutions to this problems is done.


Andersson, E. K., & Malmberg, B. (2015). Contextual effects on educational attainment in individualised, scalable neighbourhoods: Differences across gender and social class. Urban Studies, 52(12), 2117-2133.

Bischoff, K., & Reardon, S. F. (2014). Residential segregation by income, 1970-2009. Diversity and disparities: America enters a new century, 208-233.

Bra«nnstro«m L, 2008, ``Making their mark: the effects of neighbourhood and upper secondary school on educational achievement''European Sociological Review24463 ^ 478

Evans, G. & Kim, P. (2013). Childhood poverty, chronic stress, self-regulation, and coping. Child Development Perspectives, 7, 43-48.

Galster, G., Santiago, A., Stack, L., & Cutsinger, J. (2016). Neighborhood effects on secondary school performance of Latino and African American youth: Evidence from a natural experiment in Denver. Journal of Urban Economics, 93, 30-48.

Hedman L., van Ham M. (2012) Understanding Neighbourhood Effects: Selection Bias and Residential Mobility. In: van Ham M., Manley D., Bailey N., Simpson L., Maclennan D. (eds) Neighbourhood Effects Research: New Perspectives. Springer, Dordrecht

Kauppinen T M, 2008, ``Schools as mediators of neighbourhood effects on choice between vocational and academic tracks of secondary education in Helsinki''European Sociological Review24379 ^ 391

Nieuwenhuis, J., & Hooimeijer, P. (2016). The association between neighbourhoods and educational achievement, a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 31(2), 321-347.

Orfield, G., & Lee, C. (2005). Why segregation matters: Poverty and educational inequality.

Slavin, Robert E., Nancy L. Karweit, and Barbara A. Wasik. (2013). “Preventing Early School Failure: What Works?” Educational Leadership 50(4):10-18.

Wirt, J., Rooney, P., Choy, S., Provasnik, S., Sen, A. & Tobin, R. (2004). The Condition of Education 2004 (NCES 2004-077). Washington D.C.: National Center for Educational Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences. Source: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2004077

March 23, 2023

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