According to the American Psychology Association, socioeconomic status (SES) encompasses not just income but also educational attainment, financial security, and subjective perceptions of social status and social class. Socioeconomic status can encompass quality of life attributes as well as the opportunities and privileges afforded to people within society. Poverty, specifically, is not a single factor but rather is characterized by multiple physical and psychosocial stressors.


The inequalities imposed on children by their home, neighborhood and peer environment are carried along to become the inequalities with which they confront adult life at the end of school (1).Research indicates that children from low-SES households and communities develop academic skills slower than children from higher SES groups (2).  In 2018, low-income students graduated at far lower rates than their more affluent peers, with a graduation gap of 11.4% (3).

Participation in extracurricular activities has long been tied to improved graduation and post-secondary attendance rates as well as reduced suspensions at the high school level (4).  Additionally, contemporary educational organizations propose that children's experiences in sport and physical education (PE) contribute to the mental acuity, skills, and strategies that are important for navigating challenges faced across the life span (5).  Mentoring and public support for extracurricular activities is also likely to be another key factor in ensuring access to a broad range of caring adults (6).

Effective and impactful interventions tailored to assist lower SES school districts and youth are needed to counterbalance inequalities imposed on our youth. The following factors have been found to improve the quality of schools in low-SES neighborhoods: a focus on improving teaching and learning, creation of an information-rich environment, building of a learning community, continuous professional development, involvement of parents, and increased funding and resources (7).


1-Coleman, J. S. et al. Equality of Educational Opportunity (US Government Printing Office, 1966).

2-Morgan PL, Farkas G, Hillemeier MM, Maczuga S. Risk factors for learning-related behavior problems at 24 months of age: population-based estimates. J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2009;37(3):401-413. doi:10.1007/s10802-008-9279-8

3- Atwell, M., Balfanz, R., Manspile, E., Byrnes, V. and Bridgeland, J., 2020. A Report By: Civic Everyone Graduates Center at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University Lead Sponsor: AT&T Supporting Sponsors: Pure Edge Target BUILDING A GRAD NATION: Progress and Challenge in Raising High School Graduation Rates. [online] pp.8-11. Available at: <https://www.americaspromise.org/sites/default/files/d8/2020-09/BGN_FinalProof.pdf> [Accessed 5 February 2021].

4-Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A First Look at 2002 High School Sophomores 10 Years Later (NCES 2014-363). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch. Accessed 4 Feb. 2021.

5-America SoHaPE. National standards & grade-level outcomes for K-12 physical education. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2014.

6-Raposa EB, Erickson LD, Hagler M, Rhodes JE. How Economic Disadvantage Affects the Availability and Nature of Mentoring Relationships During the Transition to Adulthood. Am J Community Psychol. 2018;61(1-2):191-203. doi:10.1002/ajcp.12228

7-Daniel Muijs, Alma Harris, Christopher Chapman, Louise Stoll & Jennifer Russ (2004) Improving Schools in Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Areas – A Review of Research Evidence, School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 15:2, 149-175, DOI: 10.1076/sesi.