- A new study conducted by The Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University examined hundreds of millions of tests taken by white, black and Hispanic students nationwide, finding poverty impacts U.S. achievement gaps more than race.
- The study concludes racial segregation is associated with the achievement gap because students of color tend to be concentrated in high-poverty schools, and that high-poverty schools have less experienced teachers and fewer resources, which affects the quality of education provided.
- High-poverty schools also have fewer parents with political, social and financial connections, leading to fewer opportunities for the schools and students to make important connections.
Sixty-five years after the Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision, many parts of the country still struggle with racial segregation in schools. A Civil Rights Project report found the number of schools with a 90% nonwhite study body has tripled since 1988.
The impact of poverty is difficult to measure, but experts say children living in poverty have higher levels of stress with symptoms that mimic ADHD. Elevated levels of cortisol can also destroy brain cells, making it more difficult for students to excel in school settings. One way to combat this problem is for schools to focus on a culture of relationship building.
A former teacher from Nostalgua High School, one of the poorest schools in Alabama, pointed out, for example, that a student who went to school hungry and went home hungry would have a hard time competing with a student who didn't need to worry about food.
Students who face food insecurity often depend on free- and reduced-price lunch programs at school. However, a Trump administration plan to recalculate the federal poverty line could bump thousands of children off of the program.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that if the plan goes through, as many as 100,000 school-aged children would no longer qualify for reduced meals within 10 years, and another 100,000 would shift from free to reduced-price meals. The change is being considered because it could save the government $203 billion through 2028, according to the Congressional Budget Office.