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The Daily Dish: Poverty Students Education Outcomes, Health Says New Studies

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July 22, 2015 02:00 pm

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The Daily Dish digs deeper into one of the day’s top news stories on K–12 education. Make sure to add High School Soup to your RSS feed for all the latest updates and follow the Alliance on Twitter at @All4Ed for more education news.

Children from low-income families face many difficulties in their young lives, from adequate access to health care, proper nutrition, and high-quality schools and teachers. All of these factors, plus many more, present a huge challenge to their pursuit of an education. As Education Week’s Caralee Adams noted Tuesday, a new report from ACT, Inc. finds that just 11 percent of low-income high school graduates who took the ACT in 2014 met all four of ACT’s benchmarks for achievement.  Education Week’s Catherine Gewertz called the figure a reminder of how much support these students need in their academic careers.

Unfortunately, the number of students in poverty continues to grow. In January, the Southern Education Foundation reported that for the first time more than half of all U.S. public school students were living in low-income households. The analysis finds that in 40 of the 50 states, low income students comprised no less than 40 percent of all public schoolchildren in the 2012-2013 school year. As The Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton wrote: “The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up.”

And many low-income students do in fact face hardships in school. Slate’s Laura Moser examines new data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that suggests students living in poverty face difficulties in school – specifically with reading proficiency. The data is part of the foundation’s 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which focuses on key trends in child well-being in the post-recession years. It echoes the Southern Education Foundation’s findings: The number of students living in poverty continues to grow.

Moser notes the effect this has on a student’s reading level. She writes: “As for actual skills, here the U.S. remains in dismal shape, with a total of 66 percent of students—55 percent of non-Hispanic white kids, and more than 80 percent of black and Latino kids—not reading proficiently by fourth grade.” Moser adds, “Though the 66 percent figure is a slight improvement from the 68 percent of kids who weren’t proficient in 2007, the gap between rich and poor fourth-graders continues to widen.

Growing up in a disadvantaged household or community not only affects a student’s academic performance, but can also take a toll on his or her physical well-being. That’s according to new research from Northwestern University and the University of Georgia. As The Huffington Post’s Erin Schumaker explains, students who remain resilient and overcome the challenges of poverty do so at the cost of their health – which can take the form of such things as stress or poor diet.

This interesting finding is summarized by Schumaker, who writes: “In response to these social challenges, the ‘strivers,’ as the researchers called them, doubled down on their resolve to succeed academically….Naturally, this single-minded focus on academics takes a toll over time. The kids, whose families and communities invested so much in their success, feel obligated to continue to climb the socioeconomic ladder, and sometimes neglect key components of health, like physical activity and good diet, in the process.”


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Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.