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Low-Income Students Set Up for Academic Failure

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The National Center for Education Statistics recently released a report titled, "The Condition of Education 2016." The latest data shows that students entering kindergarten from low-income backgrounds are already at a statistical disadvantage. These children tend to score lower on tests, are more inclined to drop out of school and less inclined to pursue higher education.

The report states that children entering kindergarten from low socio-economic families are less likely to have a positive approach to learning, compared to their more affluent peers. This translates to these students not being able to pay attention in class, follow classroom rules or possess a generally favorable outlook on learning. Due to this lack of a "positive approach," students hailing from low socioeconomic backgrounds don't excel in school, particularly in comparison to middle and upper-class students.

Children from disadvantaged homes tend to grow up with less resources, books, educational materials and toys, as well as exposure to quality preschool programs. This sets the course for their education and may affect them throughout their entire school career. Without a positive approach to learning, students are found to have lower than average reading and math scores both before entering and upon leaving kindergarten.

If a low-income student does happen to exhibit a positive approach to learning, they are typically able to make significant academic gains. When positive learning behaviors are demonstrated among low-income students, their academic gains will actually be stronger than more affluent students.

The report also analyzed graduation rates and found that students from lower socio-economic backgrounds were more likely to obtain their associates degree or an occupational certificate. Poorer students are significantly less likely to enroll in a Bachelor's degree program.

The impact of educational inequalities between low-income and affluent students is substantial. Of American children under the age of 18 in 2014, 20 percent were living in poverty. With the number of students from lower income families being so great, it is vital that experienced teachers and resources are devoted to this segment of the K-12 school population.

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The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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