Internal Factors Class Difference Achievement

Internal Factors in class difference in educational achievement

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Class Difference in Educational
Achievement: Internal Factors
To label someone is to attach a meaning or definition to a person
Many studies have shown that teachers often attach labels to pupils, even without knowing the
pupil's ability or attitude towards education
Becker 1971
Carried out an important internationalist study of labelling.
60 interviews with Chicago high school students
Judged pupils on how close they fitted an image of the " ideal pupil"
Teachers saw middle class children as the closest to their "ideal pupil"
Teachers saw working class pupils as badly behaved
Cicourel and Kitsuse 1963
Studied educational counsellors in an American high school
Counsellors play an important role in deciding which students will get on to courses that prepare
them for higher education
Found inconsistencies in the way counsellors assessed students' suitability for courses
Judged pupils largely on the basis of their class and/ or race.
Rist 1940
Studied an American kindergarten
The teacher used information about children's home background and appearance to place them
into 3 groups
These groups were "Tigers"; fast learner group, "Clowns", and "Cardinals"
"Tigers" tended to be middle class pupils and of neat and clean appearance.
She seated the "Tigers" on the table closest to her and showed them great encouragement.
The other two groups were seated further away, and were given low-level books to read and
fewer opportunities to demonstrate their abilities.
Sharp and Green 1975
Studied Mapledene- a "child centred" primary school
Children were allowed to choose activities for themselves and develop at their own pace
Lucia Incerti

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The teachers felt that when a child was ready to learn they would seek help, for example with
The teachers also believed that children who were not yet ready to learn should be allowed to
engage in "compensatory play" in the Wendy House until they were ready
Middle class children, who started reading earlier, gained the help they needed, whilst working
class children were ignored.…read more

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Rosenthal and Jacobson 1968
Oak community school; a California primary school
Told the school that they had a new test specially designed to identify those pupils who would
"spurt" ahead
This was untrue; it was simply a standard IQ test
The teachers believe what they had been told
Researchers tested all pupils, but then picked 20% of them purely at random and told the school,
falsely, that the test had identified these children as " spurters"
A year later, they found that almost half (47%)…read more

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Lacey 1970
Differentiation: the process of teachers categorising pupils according to how they perceive
their ability, attitude and/or behaviour.…read more

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Study of Beachside, a comprehensive that was in the process of abolishing banding in favour of
teaching mixed ability groups
Banding, as described by Lacey, had produced polarisation
When the school abolished banding, the need to polarise was largely removed and the influence
of the anti-school subculture declined
Differentiation, however, continued.
Teachers still categorise pupils differently and were more likely to label middle class pupils as
cooperative and able.…read more

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Marketisation brought in: A funding formula; gives a school the same amount of funds for each
pupil, Exam league tables; which rank each school according to its exam performance and make
no allowance for the level of ability of its pupils, Competition; competition among schools to
attract pupils
The A-to-C economy and educational triage:
These changes explain why schools are under pressure to stream and select pupils
E.g.…read more

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One example of how this can disadvantage working class children is through the use of
home/school contracts.
Selective schools often require parents to sign a demanding home/school contracts before
being offered a place.…read more

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Schools have had to spend more on marketing themselves to parents, often at the expense of
spending special needs or other areas
There is evidence, that marketisation and selection processes have created a polarised
education system; middle class pupils at well-resourced, popular schools, whilst working class
pupils at under-resourced schools
Macrae 1997
Sees a pattern in post-16 education
At the top are highly selective sixth form colleges attracting middle class students and providing
academic courses leading to university and professional careers.…read more


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