Concentrated poverty equals poorer education | Arkansas Blog

Friday, April 29, 2016

Concentrated poverty equals poorer education

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 11:57 AM

Education Week reports on a new database used to study racial achievement gaps in U.S. schools.

The crux: The best predictor of a racial achievement gap is concentration of kids in high poverty schools.

This was what Little Rock Superintendent Baker Kurrus was talking about — and with which Education Commissioner Johnny Key disagrees — in describing the ill effects of expanding charter schools in Little Rock. It inevitably will result in an acceleration of the already growing disproportionate poverty rate of students in the Little Rock School District.

Nobody in America has yet developed a sure way to lift poor student populations to the proficiency rate of more diverse student bodies. Exposure to middle income kids is about the best thing you can do to help a poor kid's performance. Segregation by income makes that hard to accomplish.

The studies show richer districts — in a seeming paradox — have wider achievement gaps. This likely is explained by segregation in housing patterns and the segregated schools that tend to follow those housing patterns. You don't have to scratch too deeply in John Walker's lawsuit over the state takeover of Little Rock schools to find some of these same ideas and findings of an achievement gap here. From the article:
"Really, there are very, very few school districts that serve a large proportion of poor students and that have achievement that's even at the national average," Reardon said. "That suggests we may not be able to just 'school reform' our way out of that kind of inequality." 

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