Serving Low-Income Students

Serving Low-Income Students Much research suggests that family income is strongly correlated with academic achievement, but there's little consensus about what that should mean for education policy. One major rift is between those who urge a focus on poverty as an underlying factor for lagging achievement and those who concentrate on in-school factors, especially teacher quality.

Looking for on-the-ground perspectives, we've posed this challenge to five teacher panelists who have substantial experience teaching low-income students:

Imagine it's 2022. Over the past 10 years, you've helped to design and sustain a replicable school where low-income students are achieving at high levels. In your first post, tell us about the three or four factors that have driven your students' success.

In your follow-up post, reflect on one of these questions: Who were the major players in making this school a success? What are the basic components needed to replicate this school? And back to present-day reality: Are you optimistic about the potential for schools to move in the direction you've envisioned?

Follow-Up: Helpful Instructional Tools

In my previous post I focused on attitudes and beliefs that I have seen in successful schools which have led to achievement for our students in low-income communities. Other teachers posted blogs of what they would put in place if they had the financial means. I have had the privilege to work with administrators who were savvy about securing resources to improve our students' education. I thought I would just use this final post to highlight a few of the instructional tools that I have found useful in working with disadvantaged students. Achieve 3000: One computer program that was particularly ...


Follow-up: The Courage to Improve Our Schools

Renee Moore Creating the type of school that I described in the first post is both possible and affordable for this nation. What's lacking is courage. It takes courage to admit that we have systematically, deliberately, and consistently relegated millions of children to an inferior education. It takes courage to challenge what are essentially racist assumptions that many in this country have grown-up believing. Beliefs such as the stereotype that poor parents value education less than other parents. Or the myth that there is a "culture" of poverty. It takes courage to admit what our current curriculum and reform practices ...


Follow-Up: Supporting Schools From All Levels

Linda Yaron In order to sustain and scale success in communities of poverty, everyone needs to be part of the solution. High expectations need to be met with high supports that nurture children to meet their whole needs from cradle through college. The following are a few of the many, many ways those in and around education can encourage a systemic culture of success: Educators can teach an empowering curriculum grounded in student culture that explicitly teaches students the following foundations of success: purpose, adaptability, resilience, building relationships, and resourcefulness. They can build strong relationships with students, flood them with ...


Follow-Up: Social Change Starts in Classrooms

Megan M. Allen Teachers feel so passionately about educating each and every child. But those that work with high-poverty students? It's more for us. It is a passion, a way of life that can usurp every waking second (and then creep into our dreams as well). We work in it. Live it. Strive to conquer poverty as partners and guides beside our students. We focus on that glimmer of hope inside each one of our students, seeing the potential in each set of eager eyes in our schools. We know this social change can happen. It starts in our classrooms, ...


Follow-Up: In Fixing Schools, Money Matters

Jessica Hahn When I looked over the factors I listed in my first blog post (facilities, resources, lots of people, access to the world) I surprised myself. At the root of these factors is money. As I read the thoughtful posts from the other educators I noticed two trends in the suggestions to create replicable, high-achieving schools. Factors seemed to fall into 2 categories: those that needed money and those that needed an internal-mindset shift. For example, the idea of lots of highly, specialized people working with each child requires a lot of money. Holding all children to high expectations ...


Teaching as a Community Effort

Silvestre Arcos I have been fortunate to have taught in some extraordinary and revolutionary schools across the country and to have learned from some exceptional and dedicated professionals. The best thing about these combined experiences is that I get to use what I see works and reflect and grow from those things that have not been successful. If I was given the opportunity to help design and sustain a school, these are factors that I would urgently make sure are in place. Appreciation of family All of the families that I have served want their children to succeed. They often ...


Meeting the Whole Needs of the Child and School

Linda Yaron On a recent fieldtrip, I asked students to gather around close "like one big family" so they could hear my instructions. "We are a family," my student Steve responded. Family is the overarching, transformative vehicle that enables schools in communities of poverty to succeed. Thus, in order for such a future school to be successful, it would need to systematically become a unit of an alternate family and address issues students face in and out of the classroom to meet the whole needs of the child. Though graduation rates hover at 75 percent nationwide, and 50 percent in ...


School Utopia: What's Needed

Megan M. Allen I've written before about waving my magic wand and having my wishes granted in education. Well, it's time to sprinkle the pixie dust again and imagine the perfect school for the little ones that are near and dear to my heart ... that is, a school for low-income students. So what's the secret to creating this utopian school? Here's what I'm dreaming up and what I feel are the factors that will make this school a success. 1. A focus on non-cognitive skills. There is great research on the importance of non-cognitive skills, especially with low-income students. Let's ...


Making Excellent Schools

Jessica Hahn When I began teaching, I took part in an "Excellent School Visit." The excellent school we visited was a private, high-achieving school in a wealthy Phoenix community. I focused on the teaching. I believed that excellent teaching meant excellent results. Yet the teaching I saw was not what I would consider innovative or even excellent. So what made this school excellent? And what could make my school excellent? Here are some thoughts: 1. Facilities and resources In 2022, my school has a playground and a variety of recess materials. We have a huge library. We have a computer ...


Rethinking School for Poor Communities

Renee Moore News flash: America's poor children are probably not going to disappear after the next presidential election. In fact, a May 2012 report released by UNICEF revealed that of 35 developed nations, the U.S. has the second-highest child poverty rate behind Romania. Not only do tens of millions of American children live in poverty, but we have also created a school system that deliberately relegates them to the most under-resourced schools. By 2022, educators will need an even deeper set of teaching skills and multiple levels of cooperation to serve a more diverse and challenging range of students ...


The opinions expressed in Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable 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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