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NBI 2010-19 Report: The Impact of Family Economic Conditions on Student Educational Achievement

NEA Research reviewed the literature on family economic conditions and their impact on student educational achievement and found: 

  • Poverty among children in the United States increased over the last decade in both absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population
  • The negative impacts of poverty affect children during the majority of their lives outside of school - from lack of books at home and poor parenting practices to the high levels of stress in their lives and the resulting physiological reduction in short-term memory
  • The negative effects of poverty interact with the increasing segregation in schools and the increasing disparity in income and wealth in the United States.

A new theoretical model suggests that the combination of these negative factors results in cognitive, psychological, physical, and behavioral impairments that are manifest in school as poor attendance, lack of energy and motivation, poor study habits, and behavioral problems. The combination of these behaviors and deficits are a large part of the reason that the educational attainment of children in poverty is low.

The review also found that support of these children in school must be accompanied by parental, community, and medical interventions outside of school and (some studies show) that even multiple interventions do not always produce positive results.

The implications for educators and for the country are great.  The rise in poverty, school segregation, and inequity in the country pose a tremendous challenge.

Read the full NEA Research report on NBI 2010-19: The Impact of Family Economic Conditions on Student Educational Achievement.