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Children Living in Poverty : Case Study 1 by Sara Russo Report on Children in Poverty by Lucrezia Delia Case Study 2 by Colleen Smith Standardized Test study on CAPT by Kelly Gillette. Children Living in Poverty.

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Children Living in Poverty:Case Study 1 by Sara RussoReport on Children in Poverty by Lucrezia DeliaCase Study 2 by Colleen SmithStandardized Test study on CAPTby Kelly Gillette

children living in poverty
Children Living in Poverty

Approximately 20% of young children in the United States live in poverty, and children under 6 are more likely to be poor than any other age group. An additional 23% of young children live in low income households with families earning between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty level (Azzi-Lessing, 2010).

Children’s low status in school mirrors their family's status in the community.

Children tend to continue in a cycle of poverty.

Children living in poverty come to school hungry, often sick with low energy, with no motivation or confidence, and are thus ill-prepared for learning (Mahabir, 2010).

poverty and school
Poverty and School

Schools that are funded by low tax revenues (such as urban areas) have relatively few resources, while more affluent areas (such as wealthy suburbs) have access to higher tax revenue and, therefore, more available resources (Mahabir, 2010).

Poverty is one of the contributing factors to illiteracy which results in few reading resources for children in poorer areas.

20 % of students have a higher dropout rate and get involved with crimes, while some become teenage parents (Azzi-Lessing, 2010).

students understand their situation
Students Understand their Situation

A third-grader from the Bronx, New York, wrote in 2005:

“It is not fair that other kids have a garden and new things. But we don’t have that. I wish that this school was the most beautiful school in the whole why world” (Mahabir, 2010).

impact of poverty on parents
Impact of Poverty on Parents
  • Depression
    • Given that a majority of young children in poverty are being raised by single mothers, the impairment that depression often brings to mothers’ capacity to care for and be responsive to their young children is a grave concern.
  • Substance Abuse
    • Money spent on drugs or alcohol reduces the already strained resources of poor families, and efforts to obtain drugs can distract parents from adequately caring for their children.
  • Domestic Violence
    • Causes severe trauma for young children who witness it. Extreme or repetitive trauma is harmful to children’s social and emotional development and can lead to severe emotional disturbance, especially if left untreated (Azzi-Lessing, 2010).
vygotsky s take
Vygotsky’s Take

Cognitive Developmentalist.

Parents should spend more time with their young ones.

Children solve problems by observing others (Mahabir, 2010).

what educational materials are needed for children living in poverty in the united states
What educational materials are needed for children living in poverty in the United States?

BOOKS were the most needed item in both classrooms and in homes.

More specific needs were bilingual books, magazines, newspapers, pens, pencils, paper, current maps and globes, art supplies, educational videotapes, and computers (Mahabir, 2010).

equal education for all children
Equal Education for All Children?

Textbooks were scarce in inner city schools, and teachers often had to buy books using their own salaries.

Educators in this study reported that the very basic necessities, such as pencils, paper, and teaching aids, were bought using their own personal funds (Mahabir, 2010).

Overall, Children who live in poor areas may not know how to read because of probable lack of educational materials at home or in schools.

What can be learned from existing programs that are providing educational materials to children living in poverty?

The study found very few programs or organizations that specifically supplied educational materials to children living in poverty.

Representatives from the organizations who supplied educational materials said in their interviews that the children they serve came from (a) low-income families, based on census bureau information, (b) schools in urban areas that are high-poverty and under-resourced communities, (c) schools’ at-risk urban children, (d) early intervention programs in local school districts, and (e) specifically, children living below the federal poverty level found through public clinics and hospitals (Mahabir, 2010).

recommendations for teachers
Recommendations for Teachers

Be encouraged to solicit books and other materials from local communities.

The data in this study indicated that some teachers have been successful in doing this by posting their classroom needs in heavily frequented shopping areas.

Teachers said that people are willing to donate.

Principals and teachers could build communication with other schools. At the end of each school year, school districts could host a book fair at a school or township building and invite neighboring schools to participate in the sharing of books and materials.

Teachers have no choice but to continue to depend on private citizens, businesses, networking among themselves, and connecting with programs such as America Reads Challenge for the educational materials that they need (Mahabir, 2010).


General Overview

  • Negative outcomes for children living in poverty: poor physical health, school failure, emotional, social and behavioral problems
  • Adolescents have an additional layer of risk when compared to younger children: exposed to multiple risk and protective factors that contribute to substance abuse, delinquency and school failure
  • Adolescents more at risk of direct victimization and witnessing criminal acts

Study Overview

  • The study examined risk and protective factors among a sample of 157 6th through 8th graders living in 3 public housing developments
  • Relationship between patterns of risk and protection and educational and behavioral outcomes were assessed
  • Included measures of individual characteristics, interpersonal and social traits, family conditions, microsystem transactions, and neighborhood influences.
  • Study examined subgroups of risk and protection among middle-schoolers living in public housing,
  • Results of study suggest important differences exist in patterns of risk and protection among young people living in poverty, these differences evident in educational and behavioral outcomes.


  • Sample and Procedure
  • Sample was youths in grades 6,7, or 8 (or equivalent age) living in 3 public housing developments in western city, participation took place from Sept. 2005 to Nov. 2005
  • Recruitment fliers describing the study were dispersed at 3 local after-school sites and throughout the neighborhoods
  • Researchers spent afternoons during 3 month period collecting data in neighborhoods by interviewing youths at various community locations
  • Youths interviewed individually with questions read aloud to ensure the questions were understood, minimize the role of language barriers and below grade reading ability and were recorded to minimize missing data
  • Teachers of youth participants were contacted to complete an assessment of child behavior in classroom, collection took place from Dec. 2005 to Jan. 2006


  • Measures
  • For individual characteristics, interpersonal and social characteristics, family conditions, and microsystem transactions and neighborhood, both risk factors and protective factors were measured in the form of questions.
  • Different scales were used to measure these factors
  • Educational outcomes were measured by standardized test scores, and self-report grades in social studies, math, science, and reading.
  • Behavioral outcomes were measured by youth self-report on drug use, and questions about antisocial and delinquent behavior
  • Teachers completed 50-item questionnaire for each student to assess risk and protective factors related to aggressive behavior

Sample Characteristics

  • Participants approximately 12 years old
  • Sample balanced with respect to gender 51.6% girls, 48.4% boys
  • Ethnically diverse: 54% Latino/Hispanic, 17% African American, 17% multiple ethnicities, 10% Asian/Pacific Islander, less than 5% Native American/Middle Eastern
  • Scores on Inconsistent Discipline (family risk factor) was significantly higher for boys
  • Scores on Multiple Daily Hassles significantly higher for girls

Description of the 4 Clusters

  • Cluster 1
  • Showed patterns of high protection and low risks on all system levels
  • High levels of coping and self-esteem
  • Low levels of all individual risk
  • Moderately low levels of favorable attitudes towards drug use
  • Did not demonstrate peer problems, committed to school
  • Low levels of family risk such as poor parental supervision and discipline practices

Description of the 4 Clusters

  • Cluster 2
  • Demonstrated high risk patterns, specifically on individual and family levels and potentially in peer relations
  • Poor coping skills, low self-esteem, poor parental supervision
  • Only cluster that endorsed favorable attitudes towards drug use
  • Highest levels of family risk, low levels of social support
  • Do not show patterns of protection or peer problems

Description of the 4 Clusters

  • Cluster 3
  • Mixed pattern of risk and protection
  • Lowest levels of self-esteem
  • Demonstrated positive coping skills, moderate social support
  • Hassled in daily life, lowest levels of neighborhood cohesion
  • Moderately high problems with peers
  • Unique patterns of risk and protection at the individual and interpersonal levels of influence

Description of the 4 Clusters

  • Cluster 4
  • Overall high risk across all system levels, particularly in peer problems, social support, low school commitment and high daily hassles
  • Did not endorse favorable attitudes towards drug use
  • Lower levels of family risk than Cluster 2, higher levels than Clusters 1 and 3


  • Assessment of underlying stressors of living in neighborhoods affected by poverty needs to be considered with traditional mental health and educational assessments
  • Interventions should emphasize keeping youths engaged in positive adult relationships to improve autonomy, general social skills, positive identity and protect against antisocial peer influences
  • Increasing adult positive relationships, parental supervision, effective discipline through education/support can help protect against risk factors
  • A multisystems perspective may offer a more holistic portrayal of complex relationships that are evident between individual and their environment
case study a
Case Study A
  • Background
  • Student A was a freshman at NFA.
  • Guidance department reported that he was homeless. He was living in a car with his mother.
  • Impact on Education
  • Living status effected his hygiene. He rarely showered and often wore the same dirty clothes to clothes.
  • He had no access to internet and therefore was unable to complete any online assignments.
Teacher reported that the student never did his homework which affected his grade greatly.

During class he would crave attention from teacher. Was interested in history and always raised his hand. He would consistently try to start conversations in the middle of class with the teacher, enough so that it was a distraction in most classes.

His attitude and his hygiene posed problems in the class. His peers would often complain about sitting next to him or working in a group with him.


His attitude and his hygiene posed problems in the class. His peers would often complain about sitting next to him or working in a group with him. ·Since his overall knowledge and interest in history was high he was able to pass the class. However he received a very low grade because he did not do any homework, projects, or study for tests.

action plan
Action Plan
  • Meeting with team teachers, guidance counselor, mother and student.
  • Mother confessed that there was no father around and that she felt her child did not respect or listen to her. She had no control over where he spent his time and if he did his homework.
  • Plan: Student was going to move in with his grandparents who he respected.
  • Once student was moved there was a large change in his behavior, hygiene and class work. His homework was completed most of the time, he had a few new clothes and showed and brushed his hair. The student’s grade reflected his change and increased from a D to a B-.
  • (S. Burchman, personal communication, October 21, 2010)
case study b
Case Study B


  • Father had recently died of AIDS and mother was currently dying of AIDS.
  • Family had no money.
  • Student was in special education.
impact on education
Impact on Education
  • Since family could not afford any school supplies for student the teacher purchased materials.
  • Student’s main concern was what was going on at home and caring for his mother and not about school. This affected his attendance greatly and would often miss days of school at a time.
  • He never came to school with his homework done and did not complete any projects or study for tests.
He confessed to his support teacher that he did not want to come to school because other students made fun of him because of his hygiene. He often did not shower and wore dirty clothes.

Family was unable to pay for a tutor and may be unaware of where to get education help; for example resources and help at school. Transportation is also an issue when it comes to staying after school for help.

action plan1
Action Plan
  • Meeting with teachers, support teacher, school psychologist, guidance counselor, UCFS counselor (family services), mother, and previous foster mother.
  • Designed an action plan in which everyone involved would take a role in helping student be successful at school.
  • Outcomes is yet to be determined.

(A. Barber, personal communication, October 21, 2010)

interview with nfa guidance department
Interview with NFA guidance department
  • I met with a freshmen guidance counselor at Norwich Free Academy to discuss the achievement gap and link between money and education. She found that students who come form affluent or middle class families often place an emphasis on school and going to college. Parents are easy to reach and often check on students’ grades, homework and attendance. However, many of the students she meets with regularly come from lower class families. These parents do not advocate for college as strongly and therefore many students’ do not even consider going to college. These parents are sometimes hard to contact and students have reported that their parents do not check their homework, grades or their attendance at school. Students’ claim that after school they usually go hang out with friends or watch television at home and are not required by any adult to do school work.
interview continued
Interview continued
  • When I asked her what the school does to help these students she had a few responses. Although NFA is a private school and does not get state funding for many programs, the school does come up with the money to provide free or reduced lunch to students in need. They also have a late bus that runs at 4:00 that students who are staying after for extra school help can get a pass signed by a teacher and then have a ride home. The school also provides free counseling through the school based health center and guidance department. A main concern for teachers is that there is an increasing number of students who do not have internet access at home. To help the situation the computer labs and library are open to students during study halls, after school and on two Saturdays of the month.

(R. Nogiec, personal communication, October 14, 2010)


How impoverished children achieve in the established educational system is an integral part of the issue of poverty in the U.S. The Socio-economic status of students is often a factor that affects their academic achievement, especially in regards to standardized testing.

standardized testing and poverty
Standardized testing and poverty

One of the elements that affects impoverished students that is axiomatic is the gap in performance on standardized testing across the U.S.


Kohn in his work The Case Against Standardized Testing (Kohn 2000),

State “the main thing standardized testing scores tell us is the size of a student’s house.”

In addition, Critical Pedagogist Peter McLaren advocates that the financial system as well as the educational system is set up to keep the gap between rich and poor maintained (McLaren 2007).

research problem
Research problem

Instead of reporting on the gap in standardized scores experienced by lower income students, I researched ten regional Connecticut schools and compared their performances on the 2010 CAPT test using scores compared by discounted or full price lunch as well as town average incomes for each school.

schools compared
Schools compared

The ten schools selected were:

Groton, Ledyard, Norwich, Stonington, New London, Montville, Killingly, Plainfield, Old Saybrook, and North Stonington. I researched individual scores on math and science only, as well as made district comparisons by income.

Average Math and Science Scores of Reduced lunch and full price lunch students on the 2010 CAPT test.
  • For the ten schools tested the higher income schools performed better on both math and science portions of the CAPT
  • In every case, full priced lunch students scored higher than reduced lunch students
  • All of the towns with average household incomes over 50 thousand dollars a year outscored the towns with less than 50 thousand average incomes

Anthony, E. (2008). Cluster Profiles of Youths Living in Urban Poverty: Factors Affecting Risk and Resilience. Social Work Research, 32(1), 6-17. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Azzi-Lessing, L. (2010). Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Poor and Vulnerable Children in Early Care and Education Programs. “Early Childhood Research & Practice”, v12. Received from ERIC EJ889716.

Mahabir , I.K. (2010). “Exploring educational material needs and resources for children living in poverty.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Denver, Colorado. Received from ERIC ED511948.

Teenage Poverty Cartoon: Available at:,%20Calif/qqxsgPovertyLine.gif.

Test Score Cartoon: Available at:

Vygotsky Photo: Available at: