New Report: Out-of-School Factors and School Success
Cumulative effects of poverty and the struggle for low-income achievement
A new policy brief from Arizona State University, funded by the Great Lakes Center, details the poverty-induced physical, sociological, and psychological effects on students that limit what schools alone can accomplish. This counters a prevailing trend, of which NCLB is a part, of relying on schools as a key site for narrowing the achievement gap between low-income and middle-class students, and between racial and ethnic groups. The brief lists six negative out-of-school-factors (OSFs) that inhibit student achievement: low birth-weight and non-genetic prenatal influences; inadequate medical, dental, and vision care; food insecurity; environmental pollutants; family relations and family stress; and neighborhood characteristics. “Because America’s schools are so highly segregated by income, race, and ethnicity, problems related to poverty occur simultaneously, with greater frequency, and act cumulatively in schools serving disadvantaged communities,” the report says. High-poverty schools, already under-funded, face significantly greater challenges than schools that serve wealthier students. Efforts to drive change through test-based accountability are therefore unlikely to succeed unless accompanied by more comprehensive social policies. The brief names a seventh positive factor that can mitigate some effects of the first six, the opportunity for extended learning.
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