Productivity of Students in Poverty

Modern day America is littered with social and economic strife. Racism still plagues the nation in much of the same way that smallpox plagued the Aztec. There are many people living in poverty, so much so that one in five children live in a low-income family. Where these children’s situation is not well off enough to have high quality medical and psychiatric treatment provided for them. These children do not have the ability to get the tutoring, educational camp opportunities, or even the recommended amount of food available to keep their cognitive ability up to what they are asked of daily from their schools. With all these problems that occur with children living under the poverty or low-income threshold there are bound to be problems that occur with their education and their progress when it comes to academic standing and their test taking effectiveness.

According to multiple sources education scholars of the world have found that America tests a considerably large margin lower than most of their first world counterparts. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) “placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science.” Which seems rather squalid when we focus so many resources into education which according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is around twelve thousand dollars per student. When compared to most of the international sphere this is only second to Norway in terms of sheer expenditure on students. These expenditures do cover: Instruction, food services, administration, and a plethora of other things. Considering that this money is being shoved into schools and most of America is wealthy enough to be considered a first world country, why are the test scores so lackluster on a macro scale?

Even on a micro scale the test scores in America fluctuate. County to county and school to school the scores that are made can vary drastically. This is due to a plethora of reasons like, according to Georgia Department of Education there are six different types of schooling in Georgia, with teachers who use teaching styles that are completely different from one another. There are more experimental schools that try methods of teaching and scheduling that differ completely to other schools such as schools that follow Block Scheduling. Aside from the different types of schools and ways said schools are run, there are also many students that live below the poverty line. This means that  students are at a higher risk of not having the right nutrition, suffering mental or physical illness, or having dropped out due to reasons such as: their parents dropped out so why don’t they do the same, and they need to work to help support the family.

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) twenty one percent of children in America live in a home that is under the poverty line. This is over one in every five children who is possibly not getting the proper nutrition they need every day, suffering mental or physical illness due to the inability to get proper help, and definitely not able to access special tutoring for their studies or educational camps and after school activities. They are statistically more likely to do poorly on exams and regular schoolwork when compared to the test scores of their less impoverished counterparts. A graph from Huff Post of fourth and eighth grade students comparing the difference between the percentage of students of above average proficiency and below average proficiency in math, and those who are also eligible for free and reduced lunch and those who are not eligible. Free and reduced lunch eligibility is determined by the income of the family, if the family is near or below the poverty line then they are eligible for free and reduced lunch. This research shows that those who have free and reduced lunch have significantly less proficiency in both reading and math when compared to those who are ineligible for free and reduced lunches. In fact, the graphs show that for the majority of eligible for free and reduced lunch students their below average category is significantly higher than the below average category for those who are ineligible for free and reduced lunches.

As we can see from this data, the students who are affected by poverty and by the inadvertent consequences that come with it. These students try to overcome this adversity, but they are given no help outside of school. The less impoverished students get extra help from outside of school because they can afford it, but the students stricken by poverty are unable to attain these extra pushes for their education due to their financial standing. They are also less likely to seek out and be able to afford help from medical professionals and from psychiatric professionals to help with any mental or physical disorders due to lost family members or due to poor living conditions and insufficient nutrients provided by the family.

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