Follman, Debra Kay; Ph.D.
Program of Education
College of Human Development and Education; North Dakota State University
Elementary Teachers’ Perceptions of Practices of Increase the Academic Achievement of Economically Disadvantaged Rural Students in High Poverty Schools
Major Professor: Dr. Ron Stammen
Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, beginning with children in their earliest years. The greatest challenge facing public education has been the education of all students to proficiency, with the most difficult aspect of this challenge as teaching the underachieving children of poverty. The enactment of No Child Left Behind, Public Law 107-110 (NCLB) has brought increased accountability standards for public schools to the forefront. Narrowing the achievement gap for poor and minority students has become a concentrated focus. It is necessary that elementary school teachers are knowledgeable of the instructional strategies, interventions, best practices, and environments to ensure that students who live in poverty learn and achieve acceptable standards of academic excellence and school success.
This study investigated the interventions implemented for increased student achievement in elementary schools in North Dakota with high-poverty enrollments. It was accomplished by examining the factors associated with lower academic achievement for children living in poverty. The study also explored the school-based practices that are perceived to help increase the academic achievement of children living in poverty.
This was a quantitative survey study with a target population of 29 elementary schools in North Dakota who are considered high-poverty. Survey data from 176 elementary teachers (69% response rate) indicated that both rural and urban schools participated in the study. The data were collected and analyzed to ascertain basic descriptive statistics, t-test, and ANOVA analysis. The comments from each section of the survey were qualitatively coded, themed, and reported.
The conclusions were that the elementary schools in North Dakota, serving 40% or more students living in poverty who made Adequate Yearly Progress as determined by performance on the North Dakota State Assessment, are using a majority of the best practices reflected in the research about high-performing, high-poverty schools. The data suggest that parenting skills and attendance issues were identified as having an effect on student achievement most often. The study revealed that there should be a concentrated effort towards parenting workshops for families living in poverty through the school and other community organizations.
The study also indicated that the teachers’ highest level of agreement for increasing achievement was having high expectations for all students. Teachers reported that the use of assessments to monitor progress, to measure progress, and guide instruction were utilized to a high degree. Classroom management with rules and routines established, rapid pace of instruction, and a combination of negative and positive reinforcements were also identified as being used in high-achieving schools serving students living in poverty.