New report: “family income appears more determinative of educational success than race”

It has long been known in education circles that poverty is the greatest predictor of student achievement. Those who actually look at education data without preconditions (such as we shall ignore poverty so as not to make it an excuse) understand that recognizing poverty and working to mitigate its impact on our children’s education is the only way we can achieve positive outcomes, and paths out of generational poverty, for many children and families. When we ignore poverty, and other serious mental conditions and unstable family situations we are doing our children no favors. Education reformers will hasten to point to an anecdotal success story, while conveniently overlooking or even hiding the preponderance of failures they create with their own malfeasance and destructive policies. If we truly want to move out society and our people forward, we must address the harsh realities of poverty and understand that the costs and impacts of poverty are not isolated to the poor, but shared by us all.

Something Like the Truth

By Robert Mann

The evidence keeps piling up on the relationship of poverty to poor student/school performance. The latest is in a new report, “Poverty and Education: Finding the Way Forward,” released by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Image representing Educational Testing Service...

Here are a few excerpts from the report:

While education has been envisioned as the great equalizer, this promise has been more myth than reality. Today, the achievement gap between the poor and the non-poor is twice as large as the achievement gap between Black and White students. The tracking of differences in the cognitive performance of toddlers, elementary and middle school students, and college-bound seniors shows substantial differences by income and/or poverty status. These differences undoubtedly contribute to the increasing stratification in who attends and graduates from college, limiting economic and social mobility and serving to perpetuate the gap between rich and poor. 

Given the strong connection between educational…

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8 thoughts on “New report: “family income appears more determinative of educational success than race”

  1. The indicators may show that poverty is more important than race in school performance but I wonder if someone is taking into consideration that some ethnic groups tend to have higher poverty levels than others as a matter of course – – and wouldn’t that mitigate some of this argument?

    1. Many people don’t want to acknowledge the fact that a good percentage of the correlation between poverty and some ethnic groups is due to wide spread discrimination, just like the the income disparity between men and women is also due to wide spread discrimination.

      1. Good point.  It is defintely one of the social issues that impacts concentrations of poverty within certain cultural and racial groups – though not the only one.

        Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

  2. Usually when building these studies you control for multiple possible correlations and combinations of correlations. Its sort of the chicken and the egg situation. Supporters of the Bell Curve philosophy would say because blacks and Hispanics tend to be poorer (at least in this country), and tend to score lower on tests, then poverty and performance must be a function of race. The problem is that while race and poverty are often linked, but that does not mean one causes the other.

    When you take race out of the equation and chart performance strictly based on poverty indicators, you find the correlation is strongest based on the poverty indicator, not the racial indicators. Or in other words, while blacks and Hispanics tend to be poorer (based on social and historical conditions in our country) when they become more affluent they tend to score on par with the affluent of other races and cultures and when you look at other races like Caucasians, when you examine their performance, poor whites average much lower than their wealthier counterparts. One of the reasons the US scores lower than many other industrialized nations on comparisons of standardized tests is that we have one of the highest poverty rates of any “advanced” nation. When you compare our affluent students to the students of other countries affluent students ours score as well or better than any of them.

    No one is suggesting the solution is merely to hand out giant checks to poor families, but it is a serious factor that impacts student performance and how far our students progress as citizens in our society. If we want to remain a top world power, and a true bastion of liberty and “the American Dream”, it is a factor which must be acknowledged and addressed.

    Privatizing our public schools will make a few people richer, but our citizenry as a whole will be much poorer as a result and our Democracy will become a full-fledged plutocracy with all the trappings.

  3. “If we truly…want to move forward…”
    Those who are pushing ed rephorm do NOT want to move society and people forward. Big $$$$$ are made by keeping people poor and uneducated. Rephorm schools are all about $$$$$, not improving lives nor creating critical thinking citizens.

    1. Exactly. Thats why they ignore what we all know to be true by distracting us from real usdurs and preaching their gobbledegook Gospel that is easily manipulated.

      Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

  4. All true. I taught in a high need school and I am now in a middle class school about a mile from my house. When I taught in one of the most impoverished areas in NYC, I had disabled middle school students who were reading on the first grade level and had no support from anyone. I had to supply pencils everyday to these children. In my present school, 40% of the disabled students passed those Common Core tests while only 6% of disabled students passed the tests citywide. By the way, we now have a bunch of 4th graders who needed to get a level 4 to get into some specialized middle school programs, but alas, some of them got 2s. Now they cannot even apply to these programs. It breaks my heart that kids on the opposite end of the spectrum are also being hurt by these tests. But I digress. I was a garbage teacher in South Jamaica, but I am a great instructor in Bayside. In other words, if I was still a South Jamaica teacher, at the end of this school year, I would be rated ineffective but will probably be effective in my nice middle class school containing children of solid, professional, middle class parents. When I retire this June, I wonder how many will apply for my job?

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