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High-performing, high-poverty schools: At a glance

Traditionally, schools with high poverty rates have struggled to educate students successfully. More than 20 years ago, educators began exploring how schools with high numbers of poor students could be as successful in student performance as schools in more advantaged communities. Since then, research has indicated that certain characteristics are associated with increased student achievement and performance in schools traditionally viewed as low performing with a large number of students living in poverty. The following characteristics have been found in successful high poverty schools:

  • Schools and staff support the belief that all students can and will learn. High poverty schools with faculties that believe in their students, set high goals for their students, and have professional development activities that promote supportive and nurturing classroom environments have students with higher student achievement scores (Kannapel & Clements, 2005; Carter, 2000.
  • Ongoing assessment in the school and classrooms allows teachers to individualize instruction for students. Assessing students, determining the areas in which they need help, and planning or changing the instruction to meet these needs promotes higher levels of student achievement (Kannapel & Clements, 2005; Corallo & McDonald, 2001; Carter, 2000; Barth, et al, 1999).
  • Aligning curriculum with instruction and assessment provides teachers with a successful system.Making sure that instruction follows established standards or curriculum ensures that students are taught the material they will need to be successful at their grade level (Kannapel & Clements, 2005; Corallo & McDonald, 2001; Barth, et al, 1999).
  • School leadership promotes a collaborative model with teachers involved in decision making.Though leadership styles may differ, administrators include staff in making key decisions regarding school matters as well as curriculum and instruction (Kannapel & Clements, 2005).
  • Teachers collaborate across grade levels and curriculum areas to ensure that teachers and students receive the support they need. Successful schools have collaborative staffs that are invested in the success of each student. Classroom teachers and specialists (e.g., reading teachers, special education teachers, counselors) work together to share responsibility for all students (CCSSO, 2002).
  • Classrooms with highly qualified teachers enable students to succeed. Teacher quality, which includes experience, advanced degrees and training, professional development opportunities, and effective instructional skills, is directly related to student achievement (Ascher & Fruchter, 2001; Carter, 2000.
  • Family involvement in a child’s education positively affects student achievement. Schools that work together with families and encourage participation in the school and at home enable students to learn and meet grade level expectations (Carter, 2000; Barth, et al, 1999).

This document was prepared by Caliber Associates for the Center for Public Education. Caliber, an ICF company based in Fairfax, Va., specializes in social science research and evaluation.

Posted: August 19, 2005

Copyright 2005 Center for Public Education

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