The relationship of personal and social adjustment and academically related interests to the school success of sixth-grade children from low-income homes
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between selected nonintellectual traits and successful school achievement of children from low-income homes. The subjects for this study were 347 sixth-grade children who lived in a depressed urban area. Each subject was assigned to one of four achievement groups based on achievement test scores and teacher evaluations. The groups ranged from the 69 successful children in Achievement Group I to the 169 low achievers in Achievement Group IV. The California Test of Personality (CTP) was used to measure the personal and social adjustment of all subjects. Areas of academically related interests were measured by What I Like to Do, An Inventory of Children's Interests. An interview guide, developed by the researcher, was employed in unstructured interviews with eight achieving pupils. Statistical processing of the data consisted of a three factor analysis of covariance. Interactions were computed between (a) achievement groups, (b) boys and girls, and (c) ethnic groups. The analysis of covariance method was applied to partial out the effects of ability as measured by the Lorge-Thorndike Intelligence Tests. Scores the subjects made on standardized tests were converted to T-scores for the analysis, using the .05 level of confidence for significance. It was hypothesized that a group of children from low-income homes who had been identified as successful school achievers would differ significantly from groups of less successful pupils from a similar environment in areas of personal and social adjustment and in areas of academically related interests. However, the findings of this study did not strongly support this hypothesis. It was found that when ability was controlled, only the School Relations component of the CTP revealed significantly higher scores for the successful achievers. Information used in the identification of successful achievers, a review of the results of the statistical analysis, and data collected during interviews with eight of the successful achievers led to the following conclusions: The discrepancy between the actual school performance of most children from low-income homes and the expectations of teachers and the grade level norms of standardized achievement tests was clearly demonstrated. The total sample obtained below average scores on the CTP; This suggested the generally poor personal and social adjustment of children from low-income homes whatever their achievement level.White children from low-income homes who are successful school achievers appeared to be better adjusted than their minority group counterparts.Well-adjusted children are more likely to be rated as successful school achievers by their teachers. The findings of this study question the evidence that exists concerning the negative self-image of the child from a low-income home.The significantly lower scores of minority group children in all achievement groups on the Self-Reliance subtest of the CTP indicated that many minority group children are deficient in this personality variable often associated with school success. Although few differences in adjustment existed between boys and girls in this study, the two components that revealed significant differences suggested that girls from low-income homes are probably more willing than boys to subordinate their desires to the needs of the group and may be more effective in dealing with people. This group of children regardless of sex, ethnic group membership, or level of achievement, expressed resentment and hostility toward the community and toward society.The unstructured interview technique revealed some valuable information not available through a statistical approach. This approach might be a profitable one for future investigations involving children from low-income homes.