Making Poverty Front and Center in the National Conversation

17 Aug
“Education Next: With a Math Proficiency Rate of 32 Percent, US Ranks Number 32”

Stories like this are misleading about the real state of our educational system because they do not highlight the real issue–as John Kuhn said at the SOS Rally: “IT’S THE POVERTY, STUPID!”  If the data they are citing–the 2009 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) data– were disaggregated according to poverty level, our schools with less than 10% free and reduced lunch (a proxy for poverty level) topped the charts internationally. Conversely, our schools with more than 75% poverty were second to last of all countries tested. Therefore, we can pretty confidently conclude that our POVERTY (and the deeply ingrained inequalities in our society that perpetuate that poverty) is the problem that must be addressed in order to make real educational change!

I find it interesting that in this article, although the data are disaggregated by race/ethnicity, the authors do not make a connection between those statistics and poverty statistics…because then it would become clear that the two are closely related.  We need to disseminate this information far and wide so that our leaders have no choice but to make it part of the national and local conversations!!

Analysis of 2009 PISA scores here–

Additionally, this data, from the National Center for Educational Statistics, show that the poverty gap is in full evidence–“In 2009, about 53 percent of 8th-graders from high-poverty schools performed at or above Basic, compared with 87 percent of 8th-graders from low-poverty schools. Similarly, 12 percent of 8th-graders at high-poverty schools scored at or above Proficient, compared with 47 percent of 8th-graders at low-poverty schools.”

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