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Poverty Does Not Affect Education

5 min read

Poverty Does Not Affect Education – Persistent gaps in test scores and college enrollment between students from low-income families and other more financially secure students are well documented, as are the challenges schools face in trying to improve student outcomes. Often, these inequalities are seen as inevitable and the challenges insurmountable. Increased investment is characterized by waste rather than need. Yet there are concrete and measurable gaps in the educational opportunities available to students in high-poverty schools.

This report provides an in-depth look at the resources and classes available at more than 1,800 public schools in Virginia. The results are clear: Students who have fewer resources outside the school building are also left behind in the classroom. And the differences are noticeable.

Poverty Does Not Affect Education

Students in high-poverty schools have less experienced instructors, less access to high-level science, math, and advanced courses, and lower levels of state and local spending on instructors and instructional materials. The average teacher salary in high-poverty schools was about $46,000 in the 2013-2014 school year compared to more than $57,000 in low-poverty schools. Students are the ones who feel the effects of this disparity, and the consequences are worse in terms of attendance, school performance and graduation rates. Only one-third of high-poverty schools were fully accredited by the state.

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This is unfortunate because it is in these schools that increased funding would have the greatest impact, and it is the high poverty communities that would benefit most from a more skilled and educated workforce.

It is primarily black and Hispanic students in Virginia who have been denied the opportunity to pursue their career goals and ambitions. This is because students of color are grossly overrepresented in high-poverty schools. One in six students of color (15 percent) attended a high-poverty school in the 2013-2014 school year, as did more than one in five (22 percent) black students — compared to just 3 percent. White students.

Alarmingly, these challenges have not abated – they have become more widespread across the state. The number of schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families has doubled since the 2002-2003 school year, while enrollment in these schools has more than doubled.

A lack of adequate resources and offerings represents a lost opportunity for our children, communities and Virginia’s future economy. Virginia leaders must address this by better directing resources to high-poverty schools and promoting enrollment policies that encourage racially and economically diverse schools. At the same time, they should also be skeptical about the use of public funding for private schools, especially if the funding is not for low-income students or the facility is inadequate for the school, as it may segregate schools and

How Poverty Affects Education By: Robert Wade How Is Poverty A Societal Barrier ▫ Poverty Is An Issue That More And More Of Our Nation’s Children Are.

Virginia’s high-poverty schools have less experienced teachers, lower teacher salaries, fewer opportunities for critical math, science, and advanced courses, spend less per student on instructors and instructional materials with state and local dollars, and have fewer advanced courses. All of this shows that students in high-poverty schools — many of whom have fewer resources and support outside the school building — are doing even less in the classroom. And, it is primarily students of color who experience these effects.

Years of research have documented the challenges high-poverty schools face in attracting and hiring teachers and helping students succeed in the classroom. The unfortunate result is less experienced teachers in classes with the most demanding students; And that’s certainly true in Virginia. In 2013-2014, 16 percent of Virginia’s high-poverty school teachers were in their first or second year teaching at any school. That’s double the percentage for schools with the lowest concentration of poverty — where only 8 percent of teachers were in their first or second year of teaching. In these low-poverty schools, a quarter or fewer students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

The rate of first- or second-year teachers is even higher (17 percent) for high-poverty schools that have a high percentage of students of color.

Teachers in high-poverty schools also earn lower average salaries than low-poverty schools, possibly because of this disparity in teacher experience. The average teacher salary in high-poverty schools was about $46,000 in the 2013-2014 school year compared to more than $57,000 in low-poverty schools.

Poverty And Its Effects On Childhood Education

In general, states and localities spend less on education per student in high-poverty schools than in low-poverty schools. High-poverty schools spent 10 percent less per student on instructors (teachers and aides), instructional materials, and professional development than low-poverty schools using state and local resources in 2013-2014. This means that Virginia invests less in teaching schools with students who leave with less and are more demanding outside the classroom. High-poverty schools with a high percentage of students of color have lower per-pupil costs.

High poverty middle schools and high schools are also less likely to offer advanced courses than schools with low poverty concentrations. For example, the majority (93 percent) of low-poverty middle schools offer Algebra I, while only three-quarters (75 percent) of high-poverty middle schools offer this core course to build basic math skills and create a gateway to higher education. Mathematics is a required course for acceptance into certain high schools, such as the Virginia Governor’s School. Similarly, almost all high schools with low concentrations of poverty were able to offer calculus and physics, important criteria for admission to many colleges and universities. Meanwhile, in high poverty high schools, only 57 percent offer calculus and less than half (43 percent) offer physics.

And, it’s not just math and science—high-poverty high school students are less likely to take an Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) placement. Less than three-quarters (71 percent) of high-poverty high schools offer at least one AP or IB class, compared to 99 percent of low-poverty high schools. For high-poverty high schools that offer an AP or IB class, they offer only half as many — about 10 on average — as low-poverty high schools, which offer 19 of those classes on average.

Providing students with fewer resources in high poverty schools has clear consequences. Students in high-poverty schools do worse on standardized tests, are more likely to be chronically absent during the school year, are more likely to fall behind in grades, and are less likely to graduate on time.

Effects Of Poverty On Interacting Biological Systems Underlying Child Development

In 2013–2014, only one-third (34%) of high-poverty schools in Virginia were fully accredited by the state, compared to nearly all (99%) of low-poverty schools. This stark contrast shows disparate results in test performance resulting from giving the fewest resources and support to some of the students with the greatest need. Meanwhile, the percentage of high-poverty accredited schools that have a high percentage of students of color is even lower — just 29 percent.

Support is another challenge, and particularly so for students from low-income families who may need to care for younger siblings or family members or who move frequently. Students in high-poverty schools were twice as likely to be chronically absent as students in low-poverty schools—16 percent of students compared to just 8 percent, respectively. Chronic absenteeism has been shown to have a significant negative impact on student performance and graduation rates. It has negative effects on math and reading scores before kindergarten and correlates with lower assessment scores in later grades. Chronic absenteeism also reduces interest in learning, increases feelings of isolation, and is an early indicator of dropping out of high school.

Students in high poverty schools are also less likely to advance to the next grade level and graduate high school on time. The rate of students not advancing to the next grade level was three times higher in high-poverty schools (3 percent) than in low-poverty schools (1 percent). These attendance and retention challenges can cause students to drop out or not finish high school on time.

These complex challenges facing high-poverty schools affect a growing number of students in Virginia. And while at the same time, students of color are overrepresented in terms of their share of Virginia’s student population, black and Hispanic students are increasingly segregated in these high-poverty schools.

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Virginia has 212 public schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families—more than one in ten Virginia public schools (11.6 percent). These are schools where at least three-quarters of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, indicating a household income of $43,568 or less for a family of four (2013-2014). These high-poverty schools enrolled 107,000 students that school year (the last year that Virginia schools reported data on students who qualified for free or

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