The Influence of Socioeconomic Status on Adolescent Leadership in Colorado Public High Schools
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Baublits, Jennifer L.
A number of studies investigate the differential treatment of students in education based on gender, race, or disability. Few examine the indicator of socioeconomic status (SES), particularly in relation to student leadership participation. This study examined the occurrence of low SES adolescents in positions of leadership among Colorado public high schools. Through a correlational explanatory survey design, data analyses confirmed the null hypotheses that there was no relationship between the SES of adolescents and adolescents serving in leadership positions in urban or rural public high schools in Colorado. Post-hoc analyses yielded additional information related to what types of activities are more likely to have low SES adolescent leaders: (1) Low SES students were more involved in leadership while attending low SES schools; (2) low SES students were more likely to serve in positions of leadership in certain types of activities; and, (3) school SES was shown to influence the types of activities where low SES student leaders serve. Public high schools represent ideal environments for influencing leadership development of low SES adolescents. This study proposed incorporating a leadership curriculum that identifies potential leaders, provides ongoing support and training, develops leadership skills through school and community partnerships, and eliminates pay-to-play policies for extracurricular activities. Although this study presented significant findings, additional research on low SES adolescent leadership is warranted to determine whether leadership opportunities are sufficient for low SES adolescent leaders to transfer leadership skills into adulthood and out of a low socioeconomic environment.|Keywords: Adolescent leadership, low socioeconomic status, poverty, education
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