There are numerous challenges for teachers in urban areas when working with students of diverse backgrounds and varying levels of educational experiences, but one of the most prominent barriers is the disparity between students who come from disadvantaged economic backgrounds. Academic achievement can be greatly affected by the presence of poverty and students who fall into this socio-economic category can be derailed by one bad break. Students who come from low income and poverty backgrounds often presume they are helpless to improve their individual educational opportunities and hopeless when it comes to changing their socio-economic status. However, the implementation of effective interventions can help change not only the circumstances of the individual, but can improve the standards for entire communities all together.
Some experts assert the achievement gap is simply an inevitability of life circumstances and the prevalence of poverty, crime, abandonment, the presence of drugs, and the lack of educational resources in certain urban areas. However, this is a limited viewpoint and a one-dimensional perspective on a single contributing factor to the achievement disparity – poverty and low socio-economic standing. The truth of the perceived achievement gap is that the information being generated is one-sided and most of the general public, even those engaged in the educational process, are oblivious to the true contributors and more importantly, some of the available solutions for closing the gap.
It is my belief that the topic of poverty and its effect on the achievement gap and education has been discussed over the course of time without a viable solution and the gap will only get wider if communities, policy makers, educators, parents, and all invested stakeholders come together and develop active planning strategies for improving standards and close the achievement gap.
Initiatives and legislation have surged to the forefront but have only produced nominal success, however, it is not a cause to give up altogether. Although there have been reform efforts, our nation continues to observe gaps in the achievement process and children of poverty are subjected to poorer-quality teachers, less demanding curriculums and fewer educational resources. Starting with the basic needs of all students will help create major positive change in the social, economic, and educational divide.