Poverty Matters

Poverty in Richland 2 Schools, Part 2

The ability to read at an early age is an accurate predictor for later success in school as well as in other aspects of one’s life. It has the ability to predict academic success, academic difficulty, discipline problems and drop-out rates with a fairly high level of accuracy. A 2011 report by sociology professor Donald Hernandez who compared reading scores and graduation rates of almost 4,000 students found that “a student who can’t read on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time. Add poverty to the mix, and a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer.” Another study by researchers at Northeastern University used a range of census data to find that “about one in every 10 young male high school dropouts is in jail or juvenile detention, compared with one in 35 young male high school graduates.”

The Richland 2 School District has a 47 percent poverty rate for its students. Poverty is measured by the number of children eligible to receive free or reduced lunch. There has been a percent uptick in each of the past seven years – enough of an increase that Richland 2 has sought ways to honor their creed that each and every student will have the opportunity to receive an education. While Richland 2’s poverty rate is lower than many of the surrounding districts, a Poverty Series is being held – open to all district employees – to educate teachers of the impact of poverty on children and effective teaching methods to reach these children of poverty.

Frances Marion University’s School of Education has created The Center for Excellence (COE) to focus on preparing teachers who teach children in poverty. Nationally recognized for their ability to pull research from academic teaching methods, neuroscience and cognitive development, and public policy, the Center seeks to erode the barriers of poverty by giving teachers the tools to understand how to reach these children. COE Director Dr. Tammy Powloski has led the first two presentations to district employees. First to give insight in why poverty matters and secondly to show way educators can make a positive impact with exceptional instruction. Dr. Powloski is quick to point out that children of poverty are lacking in resources and this is not a statement about lacking love from their parents.

Dr. Powloski asserts that poverty does matter because children in this environment are generally lacking the resources of time, money, role models, nutrition, health, sleep and relationships – resources that are common place in middle- and upper-income families. The educational impact is heavy for children without resources. They are more likely to fall behind their peers; be assigned to lower academic tracks; be held back in their grade; be labelled a trouble student; be absent or drop out; and over their academic career earn lower scores in standardized tests of knowledge and achievement.

Free/Reduced Lunch

Percentages of Midlands’

School Districts:

Lexington/Richland 5 – 33%

Lexington 1 – 38%

Richland 2 – 47%

Kershaw – 55%

Lexington 2 – 65%

Lexington 3 – 66%

Richland 1 – 68%

Lexington 4 – 75%

Fairfield – 87%

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