Poverty and the Achievement Gap
Students of poverty face a myriad of unique problems that may affect their learning. Poverty can manifest itself in hunger, homelessness, and moving from school to school, or even from district to district. On this page you find an ever-growing archive of articles, tools, and resources focused on effectively teaching these students.
For nearly twenty years, I have been engaged in addressing the achievement gap – as a teacher and teacher educator. My time spent in schools has led me to better understand the importance of integrating students’ voices into our discourse, and strategizing solutions for addressing these gaps. Too often we talk about what needs to occur for students to increase their academic outcomes without actually taking the time to ask students themselves. Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, our schools are increasingly re-segregated in many areas and simultaneously more ethnically diverse in others. Yet many of the same factors that have contributed to student achievement gaps historically persist today: inequities in teacher quality, school funding, unhealthy teacher-student relationships, and culturally irrelevant curriculum. As we consider how best to address academic gaps, particularly between Black and Latino students and their White and some Asian-descent counterparts, we must first reframe our discourse in a way that is responsive to the voices of those students at the bottom of these stated gaps—students of color and low-income students.
“Don’t we know by now that poor kids can’t learn? Their parents are really kids themselves. They don’t have resources at home. They can’t help that. They’re kids. Why are we putting so much pressure on them? And if we are being honest with ourselves, it’s ten times worse if we lump in the ESL kids, the disabled kids and, Lord help me, those special ed kids!”