Overcoming Poverty in Schools

The Kansas City Star says that School Still Struggle With Effects of Poverty.

Joe Robertson looks at the ACT results from area high schools and finds a strong correlation between school poverty and school achievement.
•Only three schools among the 20 with the highest percentages of disadvantaged students escaped the list of 20 lowest-performing schools. Two of the three are college prep schools with selective enrollment.

•Conversely, 18 of the 20 schools with the lowest poverty levels are among the 20 with the highest ACT scores.

So where does this take us? It could take us down the road of excuses: “See, selectivity is the key to school success,” or “Schools need more money to deal with poverty.” The language Robertson uses suggests an impossible challenge: “struggle with the effects of poverty,” the problem of having to “rise above the reality,” schools are “expected to overcome so many societal barriers,” and so forth.

To his credit, Robertson talks about some programs and efforts that do boost student achievement.

The Heritage Foundation has done a fine job explaining the principles of a No-Excuses School, which include having strong leadership in the principals office. Such a school-focused (rather than district-focused) approach is consistent with a more recent proposal called the 100 percent solution.

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