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Does Poverty Have an Effect on the Education of Students?

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Does poverty have an effect on the education of students?

Every student should have the same chance at success. In a perfect world each institution would administer the same quality education despite poverty, difference in resources, or diverse cultures. Although that is a good aspiration, it is a notion that is far from reality. Poverty plays a vital part in the resources available to each school. Resources account for majority of school’s operation. In order to ensure how much poverty affects schools, two schools will be evaluated; one school is located in a community under the poverty line and the other school is above the poverty line. The academic standards, standardized test scores, and resources available to each school will be the basis of the comparison. The schools are Ashley Magnet Elementary School (AMES) whose students are majority African-American and Hispanic and Lewisville Elementary School (LES) whose students are majority Caucasian. At the conclusion of this research, there will be valuable evidence to determine if poverty has an effect on the education of the students due to resources, standardized tests, living conditions, and health and nutrition. There are many different factors that a school must think about that determine what kind of resources could be purchased. A school must consider the salaries of the educators on their payroll, the district total revenue, the district total spending, the district revenue per student, and the district spending per student (Ashley Elementary School, 2015). Each school like AMES has to manage the financial aspects of the school in order to keep the school functioning. Each section is an intricate piece in determining what resources could be purchased for the students’ learning. Therefore, schools that are under the poverty line will be at a disadvantage unless there are budget cuts for spending on resources. For example, through budget cuts spending for textbooks per student went from about $68 to $15 and spending for instructional supplies was cut a little more than half from $59 to $29 per student in the last four years (2013-2015 Budget Information, 2015). This puts spending in perspective for schools that are in the communities under the poverty line such as AMES. The families of their students may not always have the financial ability to purchase supplies to aid their child’s learning. If the school does not have the funds to provide the necessary materials for learning, the students will be lacking in the classroom. AMES is spending under the average amount per student, which gives the students less supplies that the school provides. However, LES is spending way under the average spending per student for NC schools. In 2009, they were spending roughly $8,735 per student and the state average is $10,880 (Department of Public Instruction, 2009). With that being said, the resources available to each school do play a part in the disparity in education. Standardized test scores is the way to measure the effectiveness of the education a school’s students are receiving. Although standardized tests only measure one aspect of a student’s learning, it is a great way to compare their scores with other students to determine if he or she is on grade level or below. The No Child Left behind (NCLB) legislation further developed and expanded the previous accountability mandates of Title I and asked all states to develop achievement tests to hold schools accountable across grades 3 through 8 and one high-school grade level (Borman, 2009). North Carolina gives its students end-of-course (EOC) and end-of-grade (EOG) tests to measure students’ progress. However, the EOG test weighs heavier than the EOC test which causes problems in low poverty schools like AMES. AMES students in the last few years have been struggling in math and reading. According to the EOG test scores taken in 2012 of the third graders, 54% of the students met or exceeded grade level on the math portion of the test and only 38% of the students met or exceeded grade level on the reading portion of the test (Ashley Elementary School, 2012). These numbers are extremely low and raises the question why are the children in this school so low? Where is the inconsistency in the education that causes AMES students to struggle in standardized testing?
To fully understand the difference in these schools in particular, the community that the students reside in has to be taken into consideration. About 90.7% of AMES students are either Black or Hispanic in 2014 (Ashley Elementary, 2015). This is important because of that 90.7%, 33.8% of those students are Hispanic. The Hispanic students do not always come from an English speaking household. English as a second language (ESL) students are a delicate group for the simple fact that they are trying to learn English at the same time as they are trying to learn the regular material the rest of the class is learning. Other than the language barrier, “students in low-income households are more likely to struggle for seven different reasons, health and nutrition, vocabulary, effort, hope and the growth mind-set, cognition, relationships, and distress” (Jensen, 2013, p.1). Children in low income homes are more likely to go without proper treatment of common illnesses and other infections that can grow to become more serious problems that ultimately affect the student’s attention, reasoning, learning, and memory. Students that live in communities below the poverty line might not be exposed to the same vocabulary that middle class families are exposed to. This affects the understanding of vocabulary words in school that the students are expected to know on standardized tests and other activities throughout the school year. For effort, one reason many students seem unmotivated is because of the lack of hope and optimism (Jensen, 2013, p.3). Living conditions at home can affect the mood and mindset of students which can cause depressive like symptoms which can cause the lack of effort in school. The hope and growth mind-set is more powerful for children than people think. If students believe that they are not smart enough or can’t succeed they are more likely to not put forth any effort. Similarly, if the student believe they are smart and have hope for more positive events than negative ones in the future, then they are more likely to show more effort in school (Jensen, 2013, p.4). Also, the child could have a high distractibility, short attention spans, or difficulty monitoring the quality of their own work (Jensen, 2013, p.4). Relationships is an important portion to understand. A high number of students that live in low-income families are often single parent homes. This is vital to the development of a child because if the parent or guardian is always at work and unable to talk to the child and give them the ability to vent about their daily issues or concerns, the child can become insecure or stressed, which eventually will begin to reflect in their schoolwork. Lastly, distress affects brain development, academic success, social competence, reduces attentional control, and impairs working memory” (Jensen, 2013, p.6). Each of the seven areas coincide with each other and can cause students living poverty to struggle. However, there are ways educators can work around these conditions and increase these students’ chances at success. With regards to health and nutrition, schools can allow students to do stretch and do yoga during physical education to increase oxygen intake, which in the end increases the attentive ability during regular class time. Quality physical education programs should prepare individuals for lifelong physical activity and healthy behaviors (Hodges, 2015). Recess also helps reduce the amounts of glucose in the body by the use of games, movement, and drama. Learning takes place through experiences influencing psychological functions which lead to differences in behaviors (Demir, 2012). Therefore to increase the students’ vocabulary, teachers can incorporate vocabulary practice in the everyday activities in the classroom. Spelling tests and other activities that introduce new vocabulary words and allow students to use them in a sentence and interact with the words more often will increase the students’ vocabulary. To increase effort, teachers can “use more buy in strategies, such as curiosity builders, excitement and risk, competition, and making learning more of the students’ idea by offering a choice, making them more involved in decision making” (Jensen, 2013, p.3). By making the lesson more interesting to the students and challenging them to take control of their own learning, an educator can produce more effort from their students. An instructor can increase hope and help in reconstructing a student’s mindset by reinforcing the idea that the student’s brains can change and grow. Also by using positive reinforcement for hard work and encouragement to affirm effort. Cognition is also a buildable skill. Teachers can educate their students how to organize, study, take notes, prioritize, and remember key ideas, problem-solving, and working memory skills (Jenson, 2013, p.5). This will increase the student’s cognitive abilities and increase the chances of building a strong foundation to develop higher level skills. Building a relationship with the students can be valuable to the student and instructor. Just by talking to the students one-on-one on a more personal level can allow the students to vent and vocalize their issues if they don’t have the opportunity at home. Also, having those one-on-one conversations can help students believe that the teacher cares about them which give the students opportunities to trust the teacher. This will relieve some of the students stress and make the student want to work for the teacher more because of the relationship that is being built. To reduce distress, it goes hand in hand with building better relationships with the students. Addressing the cause of the distress specifically can also reduce distress. Knowledge in action fitness was developed to aid teachers in this regard, and hopefully more teachers will attempt to combine activity with health-related fitness knowledge instruction as a way of helping their students become well-rounded and physically literate individuals. In conclusion, there are many factors that go into explaining why students in poverty stricken communities struggle more in school than students who don’t live in poverty stricken environments. Educators not only have to consider what goes on in their own classroom, but they also have to take into account how children live at home. The biggest difference between LES and AMES is the communities in which their students reside and the ability of the teachers to handle the different backgrounds and cultures that each of their students. The students that attend LES may not deal with the same conditions, which could explain the disparity in test scores. Although the community of AMES is low-income, there are still ways educators can overcome the difficulties that correspond with low-income families. Teachers will have to be eager to put in the extra effort to give their students the same opportunity at success the best way possible.

2013-15 BUDGET INFORMATION. (2015). From
Ashley Elementary School. (2012). From 370150002446/
Ashley Elementary School. (2015). From
Ashley Elementary. (2015). Retrieved from
Borman, G. D. (2009). National efforts to bring reform to scale in America’s high-poverty elementary and secondary schools: Outcomes and implications Center on Education Policy. Retrieved from
Demir, S., Kilinc, M., & Dogan, A. (2012). The effect of curriculum for developing efficient studying skills on academic achievements and studying skills of learners. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 4(3), 427-440. Retrieved from
Department of Public Instruction. (2009). Retrieved from

Ghamrawi, N. (2014). Multiple intelligences and ESL teaching and learning: An investigation in KG II classrooms in one private school in Beirut, Lebanon. Journal of Advanced Academics, 25(1), 25-46. Retrieved from
Hodges, M. (2015). An innovative strategy for teaching health-related fitness knowledge in elementary physical education classes. Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, 28(4), 19-25. Retrieved from
Jenson, E. (2013). How poverty affects classroom engagement. Faces of poverty, 70(8), 24-30.…...

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