Class differences in achievement

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  • Created on: 22-04-13 11:36

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Class differences in achievement

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Labelling in secondary schools

Becker- through an interview with 60 Chicago high school techers, found that they judge pupils according to how much they fit the image of the 'ideal pupil'.

Cicourel and Kitsuse- they found that school counsellors claim to judge students according to their ability, however they judged them largely based on their social class, race. School counsellors play an important role in helping students to get on to courses that prepare them for higher education.

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Labelling in primary schools

Rist- did a study of a kindergarten show, through this he found that in kindergarten teachers used information about children's home background and appearance to place them in separate groups. The teacher would label the middle class student 'Tigers' and unlike the working class students who were seated away and labelled as the 'Cardinals' and the 'Clowns'.

Sharp and Green- studied a primary school were children choose activities, if the children wished to learn they would seek help. They found middle class students gained the help they needed as started reading early, while working class pupils were ignored; due to this they support the interationist view that children of different class backgrounds are treated differently.

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High and low status knowledge

Keddie- found that both pupils and knowledge can be labelled as high or low status. Keddie saw that teachers taught the A stream pupils by giving them theoreticle, high status knowledge. where as the C stream pupils where given descriptive, low status knowledge, making it less likely for them to achieve.

Gillborn and Youdell found that working-class black pupils are often placed in lower sets which denies them the knowledge and oppertunities to gain good grades in order to go into higher education.

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Teachers' expectations

Rasenthal and Jacobson- used a field experiment to see if by labelling a random group of students as spurters the teachers would believe it and encourage them students. They gave the students an IQ test and told the teachers that it was a test to identify which pupills would spurt ahead, they then choose a random 20% of students and said they were spurters. They found that half a year later that almost half of the students identified as spurters had made significant progress.

This shows the self-fulfilling prophecy: the teacher labels a students, then teaches them accordingly and then the student internalises the teachers' expecteations which becomes a part of their self image.

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Streaming and the self-fulfilling prophecy

Becker- shows that working class students are not shown to be the ideal pupil, they are seen as lacking in ability resulting in teachers having low expectations for them.

Once streamed its difficult to move up into a higher stream, and the students believe their teachers see them as having no hope. Creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the pupils live up teir teachers expectations.

Douglas- found that children at the age of 8 who were placed in lower streams suffered a decline in their IQ scored by age 11. Whereas, the children placed in the higher streams at age 8 had improved their IQ score by age 11.

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Pupil subculture

Lacey- has concepts of differentiatation and polarisation to explain how pupiols subcultures develop:

  • Differentiation- is where teachers categorising pupils according to how they percieve their ability, attitude and behaviour.Streaming is a form of differentiation, since it categorises pupils into seperate classes. Those that the school deems 'more able' are given high status by being placed in a high stream, whereas those deemed 'less able' and placed in low streams are given inferior status.
  • Poplarisation- the process in which pupils respond to streaming by moving towards one of two opposite 'poles' or extremes.
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The pro-school subculture

Pupils placed in high streams tend to remain commited to the values of school. They gain their status in the approved manner, through academic success. Their values are those of the school: they tend to form a pro-school subculture.

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The anti-school subculture

Lacey- found those who were in the low streams had low self-esteem, they are placed in a in position of inferior status. Pupils form anti-school subcultures to gain status among their peers by truanting which creates further problems for the pupil.

Hargreaves- found that boys in lower streams where triple failures:they had failed their 11+ exam, been placed in lower streams, and had been labelled as 'worthless louts'. The only solution they found to this problem was to join a subculture with peers which resulted in their educational failure.

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Abolishing streaming

Ball- found that when schools abolished banding its didnt help the subculture groups to decline as the teachers ocntinued to categorise pupils differently. Ball found that class inequalities still remained when removing subcultures and streaming due to the continuation of the teacher labelling.

Since the Education Reforms Act, there has been a trend for more streaming in all types of schools, mostly those which have a more academic curriculum.

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The variety of pupil responses

Woods argues that there are several reasons other then pro and anti-school subculture responsible for labelling and streaming, those other resons are:

  • Ingratiation- being the teachers 'pet'
  • Ritualism- going through the motions and staying out of trouble
  • Retreatism- daydreaming and mucking about
  • Rebellion- outright rejection of everything the school stands for.

Furlong- observed that students did not always act the same in all of their classes, they behaved one way for cetain teachers and another way for other teachers. 

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The limitations of labelling theory

Fuller- found through her study that not all students folow their given prophecy, therefore that cannot be the only reason for why the students fail.

Marxists- criticise the labelling theory for ignoring the wider structure of power within which the labelling takes place. They say that labels stem fromt he fact that teachers work in a system that reproduces class division.

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Marketisation and selection policies

The policies affect micro levels in class rooms and schools which result in class differences in achievement. These policies include Marketisation and Selection.

Marketisation brought in:

  • A funding formula- that gives a schoool the same amount of funds for each pupil.
  • Exam league tables- that rank each school accordingly to its exam performance and make no allowance for the levels of ability of its students.
  • Competition- among schools to attract pupils.
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A-C economy and educational triage

Gilborn and Youdell- say its a system where schools ration their time, effort and resourcs to concentrate on pupils who have the potential to get 5 grade Cs at GCSE. This process is called the 'educational triage'as it categorise's pupils into 'hose who will pass anyways', 'those with potential' and 'hopeless cases'.

Gillborn and Youdell's idea of 'triage' is similar to Lacey's idea of differentiation, as they both involve labelling and treating pupils differently.

The triage is linked to the marketisation policy within education as when its linked to teachers views on pupils ability it leads to differences in achievement. 

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Competition ans selection

Schools who rank at a high position in the league table are most likely to have competion to attract other able/middle class pupils. Schools that recieve low grades are less popular; therefore recieve less funding to improve their school.

Bartlett- argues that marketisation creates popular schools:

  • cream-skimming- selecting higher ability pupils, who gain the best results and cost less to teach.
  • silt-shifting- off-loading pupils with learning difficulties, who are expensive to teach and get poor results.

Gewirtz desribes a selective school where contracts are signed by parents as being an influential school.

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An image to attract middle class parents

Walford- found that 'city technology colleges' (CTCs) atrracted middle class parents as they were the second best thing to grammer schools rathers then being due to hi-tech image.

Fitz- found that schools adopt a traditional image to atrracty middle class parents.

Ball- found that schools spend more on marketing parents rather then on special needs or other areas within the school.

Gewitz- said schools have a 'blurred hierachy'.

Macrae- found that 6th form colleges atrract middle class students by providing academic courses leading to university.

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