Quality Education for All Students

Education statistics, nationally and internationally, consistently reflect the fact that students from low-income backgrounds are at far greater risk of academic failure (e.g., NAEP, 2012) and are less likely to obtain certain economic and social privileges (e.g., Planty et al., 2009).

For example, in reading, 48% of U.S. fourth graders from low-income backgrounds read below even a Basic level, and 82% of these students perform below a Proficient level; in contrast, 18% of U.S. fourth graders from middle and upper class backgrounds read below a Basic level, and 52% perform below a Proficient level (NAEP, 2012). Although these types of statistics highlight that more is needed in education for all students, the disparity between poor and non-poor students (often referred to as the achievement gap) is clear—and much work is needed to close this achievement gap and provide a quality education for all students.



The following information also illustrates the need to improve educational outcomes for students from low-income backgrounds.

Young people from high-income families earn bachelor’s degrees at seven times the rate of those from low-income families. The Education Trust (2012a)

In both math and science, more than 40% of U.S. eighth graders living in poverty perform below a Basic level, and more than 80% of these students perform below Proficient level. In contrast, less than 20% of their peers who do not live in poverty score below a Basic level in math and science. NAEP (2012)

“Effective teachers and leaders are critically important to the effort to raise achievement and close longstanding gaps between groups. Abundant research evidence now makes it absolutely clear: children who have three or four strong teachers in a row will soar academically regardless of their racial or economic background, while those who have a sequence of weak teachers in a row simply fall further and further behind. America has many wonderful teachers. But they are not evenly distributed across different schools and districts. Low-income and minority students—the very students who could benefit most from our very best teachers—are typically taught by a disproportionate share of our least able teachers. This teacher quality gap contributes mightily to our achievement gap.” The Education Trust (2012b)

Only 3% of students from low income families who had low 8th grade math performance completed college. However, 30% of students with the same math performance who are not from low income families finished college—that's ten times more students. The Economic Policy Institute (2005)

The worst scoring students from high socio-economic status (SES) families complete college more frequently than the best students from low SES families. Also, only 29% of high-achieving kids belonging to the lowest SES quartile obtained a bachelor’s degree, compared to 74% of high-achieving kids in the top SES quartile. The Economic Policy Institute (2005)

 

How does the Helps Education Fund work to close the achievement gap and better ensure an equal and quality education for all students?

With all of our programs, materials and services are provided for free (through our specific program websites) to support the effectiveness of all educators. However, to further support educators’ and parents’ use and access of those materials and services, we provide donations (e.g., school and community professional development workshops; pre-assembled sets of instructional programs so that educators save costs on printing and assembling pages printed from the website; on-site consultation services in school-based settings; one-on-one consultation with families). Of these donated materials and services, the vast majority are specifically reserved for schools or communities with high percentages of students who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and/or students who fail to meet state standards in core academic skills, such as reading or mathematics.

Our philosophy about education and educational equity also serves as a key driving force behind our goals and projects. For example, our values are consistent with those of The Education Trust, an organization that also endorses the following values:

  • We believe in the power of education to close the gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from other young students.
  • We believe that schools and colleges, appropriately organized, can help virtually all students master the knowledge they need to succeed.
  • We believe long-standing gaps in opportunity, achievement, and attainment have roots inside and outside of schools. And though we know these gaps are stubborn, we also know they can be changed.
  • We believe a strong education improves the lives of young people, is vital to sustaining democracy, and strengthens a nation.

 

References

NAEP Data Explorer (2012). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. Retrieved June, 2012 from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata

The Education Trust (2012a). Achievement and opportunity in America. Retrieved July 2012 from http://www.edtrust.org/dc/presentation/achievement-and-opportunity-in-america-the-status-of-brown-black-and-poor-students-i

The Education Trust (2012b). Ensuring equitable access to effective teachers and leaders. Retrieved July 2012 from http://www.edtrust.org/sites/edtrust.org/files/publications/files/ESEA-Equitable%20Access%20to%20Effective%20Teachers5-25.pdf

The Economic Policy Institute (2005). Low income hinders college attendance for even the highest achieving students. Retrieved July 2012 from http://www.epi.org/publication/webfeatures_snapshots_20051012/