The Relationship between Poverty and Student Achievement . homes experience reduced academic achievement (Milne & Plourde, ). Michigan's Education Achievement Authority and the Future of Public have long endured poverty, segregation, and discrimination. authority under the ILA, the relationship between the EAA and EAS has remained. However, research to date shows little or no relationship of class size either to . The widening academic achievement gap between the rich and the poor.
For instance, research by The Institute of Research and Public Policy Montreal, Quebec showed that differences between students from low and high socioeconomic neighbourhoods were evident by grade 3; children from low socioeconomic neighbourhoods were less likely to pass a grade 3 standards test Phipps and Lethbridge 15 examined income and child outcomes in children four to 15 years of age based on data from the NLSCY.
In this study, higher incomes were consistently associated with better outcomes for children. The largest effects were for cognitive and school measures teacher-administered math and reading scoresfollowed by behavioural and health measures, and then social and emotional measures, which had the smallest associations. These Canadian findings are accompanied by a large number of studies in the United States that have shown that socioeconomic disadvantage and other risk factors that are associated with poverty eg, lower parental education and high family stress have a negative effect on cognitive development and academic achievement, smaller effects on behaviour and inconsistent effects on socioemotional outcomes 17 — Living in extreme and persistent poverty has particularly negative effects 18although the consequences of not being defined below the poverty line but still suffering from material hardship should not be underestimated Furthermore, American studies found strong interaction effects between SES and exposure to risk factors.
For instance, parents from disadvantaged backgrounds were not only more likely to have their babies born prematurely, but these prematurely born children were also disproportionately at higher risk for school failure than children with a similar neonatal record from higher income families It is worth noting that international studies have consistently shown similar associations between socioeconomic measures and academic outcomes.
At these two different stages of schooling, there was a significant relationship between SES and educational measure in all countries. Test results can be misleading and can mask the gradient if the sample does not account for all children who should be completing the test.
A study 13 completed by the Institute of Research and Public Policy demonstrated only small differences between low and high socioeconomic students when test results were compared in those students who sat for the examination. However, when results were compared for the entire body of children who should have written the examination, the differences between low and high socioeconomic students were staggering, mainly due to the over-representation of those who left school early in the low socioeconomic group.
Longitudinal studies carried out in the United States have been crucial in demonstrating some of the key factors in producing and maintaining poor achievement. Comparisons of the academic growth curves of students during the school year and over the summer showed that much of the achievement gap between low and high SES students could be related to their out-of-school environment families and communities.First graduates of the state's Education Achievement Authority
This result strongly supports the notion that schools play a crucial compensatory role; however, it also shows the importance of continued support for disadvantaged students outside of the school environment among their families and within their communities Once again, the evidence indicates that students from low-income families are disadvantaged right through the education system to postsecondary training.
A variety of data are relevant to this question, and recent research gives us reason to be both positive and proactive. Early intervention There is a direct link between early childhood intervention and increased social and cognitive ability Prevention and intervention programs that target health concerns eg, immunization and prenatal care are associated with better health outcomes for low-income children and result in increased cognitive ability However, it is the parent-child relationship that has been proven to have the greatest influence on reversing the impact of poverty.
Characteristics of parenting such as predictability of behaviour, social responsiveness, verbal behaviour, mutual attention and positive role modelling have been shown to have a positive effect on several aspects of child outcome. Parental involvement, such as frequency of outings 29 and problem-based play, creates greater intellectual stimulation and educational support for a child, and develops into increased school readiness Their underlying goal is to develop the skills lacking in children, that have already developed in other children who are of a similar age.
There is general agreement that interventions should be data driven, and that assessments and interventions should be closely linked. A primary evaluation of a child and family support systems is, therefore, pivotal in the creation of individualized interventions to ensure success in placing children on a normative trajectory Karoly et al 31 reported the magnitude of effects that early intervention programs have on children.
Measured at school entry, they found a pooled mean effect size of around 0. This means that for many interventions, children in the program were, on average, one-half to a full standard deviation above their peers who were not in the program. Interestingly, they found that interventions that combined parent education programs with child programs had significantly higher effect sizes.
Furthermore, interventions that continued beyond the early years showed significantly lower fade-out effects. The results strongly support the notion that early interventions should include the whole family and be continued beyond the early years. Constant evaluation of interventions should be completed to ensure that the benefits for children are maximized using these key components. Individual, and small and large group formats are used for teacher-and-child planned activities in the key subject areas of language and literacy, mathematics, science, music and rhythmic movement.
There has been ongoing evaluation of the approach since using low-income African-American children at high risk of school failure Fifty-eight children received high-quality early care and an educational setting, as well as home visits from the teachers to discuss their developmental progress.
By 40 years of age, children who received the intervention were more likely to have graduated high school, hold a job, have higher earnings and have committed fewer crimes. Similar positive effects of preschool intervention were found in the evaluation of the Abecedarian project This project enlisted children between infancy and five years of age from low-income families to receive a high-quality educational intervention that was individualized to their needs.
The intervention used games focused on social, emotional and cognitive areas of development. Children were evaluated at 12, 15 and 21 years of age, and those who had received the intervention had higher cognitive test scores, had greater academic achievement in reading and math, had completed more years of education and were more likely to have attended a four-year college.
Interestingly, the mothers of children participating in the program also had higher educational and employment status after the intervention.
One of the oldest and most eminent early intervention programs is the Chicago Child Parent Center program.
A review of research on the links between education and poverty
The intervention targets students who are between preschool and grade 3 through language-based activities, outreach activities, ongoing staff development and health services. Importantly, there is no set curriculum; the program is tailored to the needs of each child One crucial feature of the program is the extensive involvement of parents. An evaluation of the Chicago Child Parent Center Program was completed by Reynolds 34 using a sample of black children from low-income families.
They were exposed to the intervention in preschool, kindergarten and follow-up components. Two years after the completion of the intervention, the results indicated that the duration of intervention was associated with greater academic achievement in reading and mathematics, teacher ratings of school adjustment, parental involvement in school activities, grade retention and special education placement Evaluation of the long-term effects of the intervention was completed by Reynolds 35 after 15 years of follow-up.
Individuals who had participated in the early childhood intervention for at least one or two years had higher rates of school completion, had attained more years of education, and had lower rates of juvenile arrests, violent arrests leaving school early.
Later intervention A common question concerns the stage at which it is too late for interventions to be successful. Recent findings N Rowen, personal communication from an uncontrolled community study in Toronto, Ontario, have suggested that a multisys-temic intervention as students transition to high school can produce dramatic results.
The Pathways to Education project began because of a community parents request to a local health agency to help their children succeed in high school.
The community consisted mainly of people from a public housing complex, with the majority of families being poor, immigrants and from visible minority groups. The Pathways project grew out of a partnership between the community, the health centre and the school board, and was funded by a variety of sources. The Pathways project has been running for six years, and the results for the first five cohorts of students have been exciting.
While these initial results must be replicated in other communities, they suggest that, even at the high school level, interventions can be startlingly effective, even in a community with a long history of poverty, recent immigration and racism.
As the proponents of Pathways move to replication, they will need to be careful to untangle the effects of community commitment, school board collaboration and the rich set of collaborations that have been a hallmark of this first demonstration project.
Nevertheless, Pathways has made it clear that Canadian communities possess the capacity to change the education outcomes of their children and youth. While it takes resolve and resources to achieve such effects, initial analysis suggests that over the lifetime of the students, each dollar invested will be returned to Canada more than 24 times 36!
Schools make a difference Canadian and international research on educational outcomes has revealed important data on the effects of schools and classrooms.
Frempong and Willms 37 used complex analyses of student performance in mathematics to demonstrate that Canadian schools, and even classrooms, do make a difference in student outcomes ie, students from similar home backgrounds achieve significantly different levels of performance in different schools. Furthermore, schools and classrooms differ in their SES gradients ie, some schools achieve not just higher scores, but more equitable outcomes than others.
These general findings were corroborated by Willms 38 using reading scores from children in grade 4 and those 15 years of age from 34 countries. Once again, it was demonstrated that schools make a difference and that some schools are more equitable than others. These activities should be encouraged in all schools to maximize school readiness. A key to making schools more effective at raising the performance of low SES students is to keep schools heterogeneous with regard to the SES of their students ie, all types of streaming result in markedly poor outcomes for disadvantaged children and youth.
Balancing the consistent evidence about the pervasive negative impact of poverty on educational outcomes with the hopeful positive outcomes of intervention studies, what can we do in our communities to attenuate the effects of poverty and SES on academic success? Here are some important actions: Golova et al 39 reported intriguing results from a primary care setting.
They delivered a literacy promoting intervention to low-income Hispanic families in health care settings. At the initial visit average age 7.
The impact of poverty on educational outcomes for children
Control group families received no handouts or books. At a month follow-up visit mean age Given this suggestive finding, there are a number of points that paediatricians and family doctors should consider as they deliver primary care: Observe and encourage good parenting — mutual attention and contingency of interaction taking turns and listening to each otherverbal behaviour amount of talking and qualitysensitivity and responsiveness awareness to signs of hunger, fatigue, boredom and providing an appropriate responserole modelling and reading to their children; Encourage parents to increase their knowledge of child development, particularly age-appropriate needs of and activities for their children.
These programs usually do not charge fees and require no formal arrangements. Together these factors are linked to, and compound, poor educational attainment.
Integrating explanations Some studies integrate these different levels in their analysis: Studies examine how — taken together — particular variables create risk or resilience in the lives of young people and consequently their ability to engage with education actively.
Research highlights particular risk factors such as maternal depression, violent neighbourhoods or negative peer group socialising. Some research identifies moderating factors, particularly the development of a warm caring relationship with a significant adult or within a caring community.
Other studies examine how, more indirectly, factors such as parents' educational qualifications can result in their children attaining particular levels of educational achievement. Such studies are complemented by early child development research that focuses on the importance of these issues in early childhood and recognises aspects of neurobiology.
This reflects the more sophisticated work undertaken by geneticists who have examined environmental impact and, in particular, how poor environments can alter capability biologically. The 'socially critical' perspective Research taking this perspective assumes that education is potentially beneficial but that the ability to engage with economic and social developments is itself inherently inequitable and that education in its current form reflects unequal distributions of power and resource.
Since research from this perspective tends to be socially based, there is little which focuses primarily on individuals. Likewise, there are few studies from this perspective which integrate these different levels of analysis.
Immediate social context These studies focus on neighbourhoods, community radicalism, different curricula and cultures within schools and the potential that these have for changing power relations within education. These can be summarised as follows: Research that provides an account of people's lives in neighbourhoods and communities. Studies that emphasise more radical and democratic approaches to running classrooms and schools which challenge and change existing power relations for example, in relations between teachers and pupils and in how school governance relates more directly to community needs.
Interventions that focus on developing community radicalism for empowered engagement with the education system to create more equitable educational opportunities. Broader social structures These studies assume that education can both challenge existing power structures and enable democratic development but that current forms of education create, reproduce and enhance inequality.
A review of research on the links between education and poverty | JRF
They do not view the development of education as enabling and teaching all young people to challenge existing social structures. Broadly they are critical of 'functionalist' policy interventions such as educational choice and conclude: Global and national social and economic structures determine educational provision and achievement.
Power structures affect the lives and educational experiences of particular groups. Current policy interventions Recent years have seen a plethora of policy initiatives in England such as Excellence in Cities, Connexions, Sure Start, Educational Maintenance Allowance and full service extended schools.
A review of these initiatives suggests that almost all appear to take a functionalist perspective and focus in a piecemeal fashion mainly on factors concerning immediate social context, such as family and neighbourhood. There is very little in educational policy that focuses on explanations based on broader social structures or interventions at this level.
The impact of poverty on educational outcomes for children
In addition, none of the socially critical explanations appear to be reflected in policy. It is also clear that interventions so far have had only a very partial impact in breaking the link between poverty and poor educational attainment.
Conclusion The review suggests that policy needs simultaneously to address a whole series of factors at different levels if it is to have any meaningful impact.
It needs to have an overarching vision of how various interventions fit together and for what purposes. The researchers conclude that the following are the most fundamental issues facing educational policy-makers: Scope There is no single explanation for why learners from poor backgrounds do badly in educational terms. Rather, there are multiple factors implicated at the individual, immediate social and broader societal levels.
There are no magic bullets that will enable such learners to perform as well and derive the same educational benefits as their more advantaged peers. Instead, what are needed are interventions which address the full range of factors and which operate at all three levels. Coherence A related problem for policy-makers is the coherence of their interventions.
An attractive alternative to the 'magic bullet' approach is the 'scattergun' approach — in other words, undertaking a wide range of relatively small-scale initiatives in the hope that separately or together some of them might make a difference.
The issue facing policy-makers is how to make multiple interventions coherent, how to sequence them chronologically, and how to prioritise the most effective or most important interventions amongst all those which might or should be taken.
This suggests that policy-makers need to develop more fully their own 'theories of change' about how interventions are likely to work and then develop these through the careful monitoring of the actual impact of interventions. Power The socially critical perspective outlines clearly the view that the relationship between poverty and education is unlikely to be disturbed unless fundamental issues of power and interest, advantage and disadvantage are addressed.
This perspective suggests that simply tackling the immediate problems of poverty and education will ultimately prove to be ineffective if underlying inequalities reproduce these problems in other forms. About the project The review was undertaken by identifying research-relevant literature which explicitly addressed the relationship between poverty and educational outcomes.
This literature included research texts, policy papers, evaluations and various other reports. A provisional mapping framework was developed and tested in a seminar with academics across the University of Manchester. As the framework developed a wider group of researchers and policy-makers was invited to an international seminar in order to examine and challenge the framework.