Arkansas State University
Research Questions Poverty is an issue that many children are faced with, and these children are entering school with needs that some teachers are not prepared or equipped to meet. The Fort Smith School District is becoming increasingly diverse and much of the diversity is the students that are in poverty. Out of the nineteen elementary schools in the district nine of those schools are made up of over 90% free and reduced lunch and only two of the schools are below 50%. In the nine elementary schools with above 90% free and reduced lunch they are faced with challenges in teaching the students of poverty. These students are at risk of failing in school because of the lack of resources that they have out of school. Teachers are faced with a large number of challenges, and when the student comes to them at risk because of their social status things get even more complicated. After reviewing the high stakes testing, the results of these schools reveal the challenge that these teachers face. Not only does the testing data prove the difficulty level of teaching in these schools, but the number of transfers that the teachers put in yearly to move to a different school is higher than the other ten schools in the district.
The superintendent charged all staff to work to eliminate all elementary below basic students, therefore it is an expectation to increase learning to all of the students regardless of their background. In order for this to occur there needs to be a better understanding of how teachers are working to implement research based strategies in schools with high poverty. To gain a better understanding of how poverty in these Fort Smith elementary schools affect the focus on learning an interview was developed. There have been many studies in these schools using the student data, but the teachers’ perception has not been addressed. The teachers in these schools are one of the main factors to success and their needs as an effective teacher needs to be met. The goal was to collect qualitative data that would show the teachers perception of the focus on learning and how they can become better equipped to teach these children. The Interviewees that were selected represent the teachers and administration in the schools with 90% free and reduced lunch. After gathering information from the preliminary interview many of the teachers revealed that they had very little support to implement the research based strategies and where not given a chance to fully implement before new things were pushed in. They felt as if the constant change prevented them from being successful.
This problem is significant because of the increasing number of students of poverty scoring below basic. There have been statistics that show that if student goes to junior high below basic are at a high risk of dropping out of school. Therefore the students of poverty are at a higher risk of not completing high school, but they are also at a high risk of failing at life.
In order to eliminate the below basic scores, we must improve our students’ of poverty achievement through a variety of research based strategies. Therefore teachers of these students will need support and resources that will support implementing the research based strategies. With support the teachers will be able to direct their focus on student learning. It is important that we consider using strategies that will positively affect our teachers rather than simply considering strategies that are directed at the students. Elevating the teachers with the support they are lacking will create a positive environment which will be more conducive to learning.
A Review of the Literature
In reviewing the literature, there have been many studies on how poverty effects education. With the rise in the number of children in poverty it is making classrooms across the nation more diverse than