12 Sad But True Stats About Student Poverty Today


Nasty stereotypes of low-income students exist, frequently painting them as inherently violent and not blessed with the same academic skills as their middle- and higher-income counterparts. Meanwhile, in reality, their statistically lower performance in school (also known as the “Achievement Gap” for jargon fans) hinges more on the fact that they so often lack the same resources, nutrition, and extenuating circumstances and usually learn from more novice educators than anything even one iota reflective of the whole Randian perspective that poor people are poor because they suck. In order to start pushing for more equal opportunities in the classroom, we need to look at just how dire the situation is for these students living at or below the poverty line.

  1. Eighteen percent of American students under the age of 18 live in poverty:

    The National Center for Education Statistics further peered into the relationship between race and poverty, noting their living arrangements. Puerto Rican students hailing from single parent households, at 52.1%, are the most vulnerable demographic when it comes to suffering the ravages of low income.

  2. Nearly half of public school students qualify under the National School Lunch Program:

    As of the 2009-2010 school year, 47.5% of these kids were considered eligible for free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches. Ever since 2000-2001, data noted an increase as the economy decreased, launching from 38.3% to encroaching upon half. Right now, this means 23,103,677 total public school students (out of 48,684,948) are not receiving the necessary nutrition to get through the day at home.

  3. District of Columbia leads the nation in number of students qualifying for free or reduced lunches and breakfasts:

    Out of every polled region in the United States, Washington, D.C. housed the most American students eligible for free or reduced-priced meals — a tragic 72.3%, or 48,330. By contrast, New Hampshire ranks as the state with the lowest number, at 23.5%, or a total of 46,246 students.

  4. Students from low-income households are more likely to drop out of school:

    While the dropout rate overall is decreasing (which should provide you with an oasis of positivity amongst the saddening statistics we’re sharing), it still impacts students living in poverty more than their middle- and high-income peers. In 2010, the dropout rate only claimed 7.4% of students between the ages of 16 and 24. But the number shoots to 13.8% when you look solely at the low-income bracket.

  5. Students from low-income schools are less likely to attend college:

    In 2010, only 28% of schools with between 76% and 100% of their students qualifying for NSLP saw their graduates from the previous year begin their higher education journeys. An average of 68% of students taught in such environments completed their degrees after four years.

  6. Math scores decrease as NSLP eligibility increases:

    Among fourth graders surveyed in 2005, the average math assessment among students in schools with the highest concentration of National School Lunch Program-eligible children yielded the lowest scores: 221, as compared to 255 for their counterparts from higher-income schools. More than likely, this phenomenon stems from the fact that they are the demographic most served by teachers with less than five years of experience.

  7. Schools with the highest poverty rates report the highest amount of violent crimes:

    By “violent crimes,” the NCES means “rape or attempted rape, sexual battery other than rape, physical attack or fight with a weapon, threat of physical attack with a weapon, and robbery with or without a weapon, physical attack or fight without a weapon, and threat of physical attack without a weapon.” Thirty-eight percent of schools filing 20 or more reports of such incidents have a student body between 76% and 100% qualifying for the NSLP.

  8. An estimated 1.35 million American kids are homeless:

    And they come from the roughly 600,000 families qualifying as homeless. An additional 3.8 million American kids are considered as living in “precarious housing situations,” which means they could lose their homes at any time. The impact such arrangements can have on their schooling situations can be devastating, as they make communication with parents (if they are even in the picture), confirming vaccines, transferring records, and more difficult to impossible.

  9. Only 87% of homeless children and teens enroll in public schools:

    But, according to data from the 2007-2008 school year, only 77% can be considered regular attendees. As the National Coalition for the Homeless points out, however, both statistics are likely higher, owing to the fact that not all districts in the United States reported.

  10. Top-tier colleges just aren’t helping:

    In fact, only 3% of the student population of the “most competitive” colleges and universities in the United States grew up in low-income households. Again, this reflects little on their true aptitude in academics — many of the discrepancies involved in the achievement gap stem directly from a lack of resources and classes with teachers boasting less experience.

  11. Speaking of lacking resources … :

    Students from middle-income families establish households with an average of 13 books per child, according to University of Southern California. Their lower-income counterparts? One book for every 300 students. Considering studies suggest that reading at home strengthens general literacy skills, the numbers place students living below or near the poverty line at yet another disadvantage.

  12. Third-grade performance is an indicator of twelfth-grade achievement:

    2011 research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation noted a sad correlation between poor literacy in third grade with graduation rates. Students who had experienced poverty and read below their grade level that early in life were three times as likely to not complete high school as their peers with appropriate or high-level literacy.

Posted on 11/26/12 | by Staff Writers | in Education | No Comments »

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