Proceedings of The 4th International Conference on New Trends in Teaching and Education
Understanding the Factors that Challenge Students below the Poverty Level in a Large Suburban Middle School Setting
The purpose of this action research study was to understand the factors that challenge students below the poverty level in a large suburban middle school setting and to develop strategies to close the opportunity gap for low socio-economic students.
Participants and data collected in Cycle 1 consisted of 7 interviews with educational professionals and 240 student surveys at a large suburban middle school setting. Action steps including a parent survey and focus group that was designed, implemented, and evaluated in Cycle 2 to help bridge the gap between the school and home setting. Findings included a disconnect between the school and home setting on the meaning of parental involvement and the understanding of the multi-layered barriers faced by many in the community as indicated by parents. Implications for the organization included more guidance and information on low-income students in the community. There was a consensus among the focus group that parental involvement and engagement is set forth and maintained by the parents and school as a team. The tools needed for success are stronger communication strategies and more opportunities for parents to feel safe and welcomed in the school environment.
keywords: opportunity gap, low-income students, academic achievement, the role of poverty in education, Title I.