Low-income Students and Financial Aid for College

Many low-income students don’t know they can get money for college, survey shows, By Karen Farkas, October 4, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Many low-income high school students do not know they can receive money for college, according to a report by the National College Access Network.  A survey showed students who did not apply for financial aid did not know what aid is and did not know how they could get it.  Promoting and providing help to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the primary mission of the organization and its members, is not enough, the group said…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In Connecticut, a wealth gap divides neighboring schools, By Elizabeth A. Harris and Kristin Hussey, September 11, 2016, New York Times: “The two Connecticut school districts sit side by side along Long Island Sound. Both spend more than the national average on their students. They prepare their pupils for the same statewide tests. Their teachers, like virtually all the teachers in the state, earn the same high marks on evaluations.  That is where the similarities end: In Fairfield, a mostly white suburb where the median income is $120,000, 94 percent of students graduate from high school on time. In Bridgeport, the state’s most populous and one of its poorest cities, the graduation rate is 63 percent. Fifth graders in Bridgeport, where most people are black or Hispanic, often read at kindergarten level, one of their teachers recently testified during a trial over school funding inequities…”

Summer Programs for Children

New evidence that summer programs can make a difference for poor children, By Emma Brown, September 7, 2016, Washington Post: “During their long, languid summers, lots of children forget the lessons they learned in school. But the hot empty months pose an especially big academic hurdle for poor children, whose families might not have time or money for camps or enrichment activities.  Now new research suggests that school districts can stave off the so-called summer slide by offering free, voluntary programs that mix reading and math instruction with sailing, arts and crafts and other summer staples. The research also shows, perhaps unsurprisingly, that students have to attend the programs regularly to reap the benefits…”

 

Chronic School Absenteeism

  • Chronic absenteeism hinders students, By Annysa Johnson, September 6, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The overwhelming majority of U.S. school districts — urban, suburban and rural — experience some degree of chronic absenteeism that puts students at academic risk, according to a study released Tuesday.  But half of all chronically absent students are enrolled in 4% of the nation’s school districts and 12% of its schools, including many in Wisconsin. And it disproportionally affects students of color, those who are poor and those diagnosed with learning disabilities…”
  • The long-term consequences of missing school, By Mikhail Zinshteyn, September 6, 2016, The Atlantic: “The precocious teen who’s too cool for school—earning high marks despite skipping class—is a pop-culture standard, the idealized version of an effortless youth for whom success comes easy.  Too bad it’s largely a work of fiction that belies a much harsher reality: Missing just two days a month of school for any reason exposes kids to a cascade of academic setbacks, from lower reading and math scores in the third grade to higher risks of dropping out of high school, research suggests…”

Achievement Gap – Oregon

Oregon test scores Show persistent achievement gaps based on race, income, By Rob Manning, September 8, 2016, Oregon Public Broadcasting: “Standardized test scores released Thursday show Oregon students improved, but only by one percentage point, on average, compared to last year.  The Smarter Balanced exams continue to show enormous achievement gaps based on race…”

Kindergarten Readiness Gap

  • Study: Poor kindergartners are catching up, By Lauren Camera, August 26, 2016, US News and World Report: “After decades of exponential growth in the gap of kindergarten academic readiness between poor students and their wealthier peers, that fissure is finally closing.  Between 1998 and 2010, the difference in kindergarten readiness between high- and low-income children narrowed by 10 percent to 16 percent, according to a study published Friday in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.  Previously, that academic achievement gap between poor and wealthy children had grown by about 40 percent since the 1970s…”
  • Low-income kindergartners are closing the achievement gap, reversing a decades-old trend, By Emma Brown, August 26, 2016, Washington Post: “Low-income kindergartners are entering school with stronger math and reading skills, narrowing the academic gap with their affluent peers and reversing a decades-old trend, according to research released Friday.  The good news surprised researchers, who had expected to see school-readiness gaps growing — particularly given the broad societal trends of increasing income inequality and economic segregation…”

Career Pathways Program – Arkansas

This welfare reform program could be a model to help impoverished college students, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel,  August 31, 2016, Washington Post: “When Will Bradford enrolled at Northwest Arkansas Community College in January 2015, it had been 15 years since he had stepped foot in a classroom. He had taken a few college classes after high school but dropped out in a matter of weeks.  ‘I just didn’t have the motivation,’ Bradford, 35, recalls. But with two young boys to care for, getting an education took on a new importance, especially if it meant earning more money. Even with his newfound motivation, Bradford was no less intimidated. ‘I was nervous about how much work would be involved and whether I was overdoing it with a full-time job, but a lot of it was just getting back into the school system,’ he said.  Enter Arkansas Career Pathways Initiative, a program funded by the federal welfare program, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF, that provides academic and social services to low-income parents attending state community colleges and technical centers…”

High School Graduation Rate – Los Angeles, CA

Crash course in credit recovery yields best-ever graduation rate of 75% for L.A. schools, By Howard Blume and Sonali Kohli, August 10, 2106, Los Angeles Times: “The star of an annual kickoff event for the new school year in Los Angeles was a number: 75%, the highest graduation rate ever tabulated by the nation’s second-largest school system. That achievement, announced by L.A. Unified Supt. Michelle King on Tuesday at Garfield High School, brought acclaim from an audience of administrators and dignitaries, but also led some to wonder again whether such improvement is real.  The milestone represents a breathtaking turnaround between December and June…”

Elite Colleges and Low-Income Students

Wealthy universities are doing a poor job helping low-income students, report says, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, August 4, 2016, Washington Post: “The top 4 percent of colleges and universities hold three quarters of all endowment wealth in higher education, yet four in five of those 138 schools expect the neediest families to hand over more than 60 percent of their income to cover the cost of attendance, according to a report released Thursday by the Education Trust…”

Childhood Literacy

Where books are all but nonexistent, By Alia Wong, July 14, 2016, The Atlantic: “Forty-five million. That’s how many words a typical child in a white-collar familywill hear before age 4. The number is striking, not because it’s a lot of words for such a small human—the vast majority of a person’s neural connections, after all,are formed by age 3—but because of how it stacks up against a poor kid’s exposure to vocabulary. By the time she’s 4, a child on welfare might only have heard 13 million words.  This disparity is well-documented. It’s the subject of myriad news stories and government programs, as well as the Clinton Foundation’s ‘Too Small to Fail’ initiative, all of which send the message that low-income parents should talk and read to their children more. But these efforts to close the ‘word gap’ often overlook a fundamental problem. In high-poverty neighborhoods, books—the very things that could supply so many of those 30 million-plus words—are hard to come by. In many poor homes, they’re nonexistent…”

Student Homelessness in Madison, WI

Shelter to school: For homeless 6-year-old, kindergarten provides stability in an otherwise chaotic life, By Doug Erickson and Dean Mosiman, July 17, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “Six-year-old K’won Watson cries as his mother rouses him at the Salvation Army homeless shelter in Madison. He had wanted more sleep and will spend much of the school day yawning.  It is March, and K’won is in kindergarten — one of the hundreds of students who are homeless in Madison on any given day.  He and his infant brother, Amir, and their mother, Alicia Turner, 25, are living at the shelter in a dormitory-style room that is clean but spare. To add some warmth, Turner has decorated the door with three drawings she’s done with colored markers — two of butterflies, one of a fruit basket.  Like his older brother, Amir wakes up cranky, too. Turner changes his diaper while sending K’won to brush his teeth in restrooms shared by 18 families…”

College Students and Food Insecurity

Four in 10 UC students do not have a consistent source of high-quality, nutritious food, survey says, By Teresa Watanabe and Shane Newell, July 13, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “UC Irvine student Chris Tafoya admits that he’s often hungry and doesn’t eat the nutritious foods he should. On his worst days, the 20-year-old Los Angeles native said he would simply go to sleep early to quiet the hunger pangs.  Other times, he would eat instant ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No matter that each serving is packed with sodium and fat; at less than 50 cents each, it was affordable for Tafoya, who has balked at asking his low-income relatives for help…”

 

Community Colleges and Federal Student Loans

The surprising number of community college students without access to federal student loans, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, July 1, 2016, Washington Post: “A growing number of community colleges are exiting the federal student loan program, leaving nearly a million students without access to low-cost options to pay for school, according to a new study from the Institute for College Access and Success.  The advocacy group found that nearly 1 in 10 community college students in 32 states have no access to federal student loans. Nearly half of these students are in California or North Carolina. In eight states, including Alaska, Alabama and Louisiana, more than 20 percent of students attend schools that have opted out of the federal government’s student loan program…”

Pell Grant Program for Prisoners

12,000 inmates to receive Pell grants to take college classes, By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, June 24, 2016, Washington Post: “As many as 12,000 prison inmates will be able to use federal Pell grants to finance college classes next month, despite a 22-year congressional ban on providing financial aid to prisoners.  The Obama administration selected 67 colleges and universities Thursday for the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, an experiment to help prisoners earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree while incarcerated. The schools will work with more than 100 federal and state penitentiaries to enroll inmates who qualify for Pell, a form of federal aid that covers tuition, books and fees for college students with financial need. Prisoners must be eligible for release within five years of enrolling in coursework…”

Homelessness and Food Insecurity Among College Students

  • Cal State University looks to stem homelessness, hunger among students, By Josh Dulaney, June 21, 2016, Long Beach Press Telegram: “On the heels of a report showing close to one in 10 Cal State University students are homeless or face housing instability, officials met this week in Long Beach to come up with solutions to help students. ‘I think we’re going to start getting some greater awareness across this country because of Cal State — because of our size and importance — is raising this issue across the nation, and we’re not alone in doing so,’ Chancellor Timothy P. White said at the outset of the two-day meeting at the Chancellor’s Office…”
  • Food pantries address a growing hunger problem at colleges, By Stephanie Saul, June 22, 2016, New York Times: “Tucked away in a discreet office atBrooklyn College’s Student Center, beyond the pool tables and wide-screen TVs where her classmates congregate, Rebecca Harmata discovered a lifeline.  A psychology major who works in a doctor’s office to pay for her education, Ms. Harmata describes a break-even, paycheck-to-paycheck existence, with little left over for luxuries — or even for food.  So when she saw a sign last fall advertising the school’s new free food pantry, she decided to take advantage…”

Schools Districts and Students in Foster Care

How children in foster care could benefit from the new federal education law, By Emma Brown, June 23, 2016, Washington Post: “The Obama administration on Thursday released new guidance explaining what states and school districts must do to meet new legal obligations to students in foster care, who are often among the nation’s most vulnerable children. For the first time, schools, districts and states must publicly report on the performance of children in foster care, a requirement that advocates hope will help shine a light on the need for more attention and help…”

Racial Achievement Gap – Iowa, Kentucky

  • Preschool — The solution to black achievement gap?, By Mackenzie Ryan, May 23, 2016, Des Moines Register: “It’s mid-morning, and Evevett Fugate has been up all night. After clocking out of her overnight McDonald’s shift at 6 a.m. and returning home, she readies her four children for school, making sure the oldest three catch the bus in the morning. She takes her youngest, Ovalia, to preschool class for 4-year-olds, then picks her up at 11 a.m.  Although Fugate’s overnight work allows her to attend school activities, she has enrolled Ovalia in early childhood programs since age 2 because she knows how vital is it for children to get an early jump on kindergarten, whether it be learning letters or picking up social skills…”
  • Despite advances, racial achievement gap widens, By Luba Ostashevsky, May 23, 2016, Louisville Courier-Journal: “The second-graders in Sarah Bowling’s class at Dunn Elementary were on a mathematical scavenger hunt. Students cradling clipboards moved around the room matching groupings of things and learning the concept that three groups of five things total the same as five groups of three things. In the middle of the room,  three students received individualized instruction because they had fallen short of academic expectations. While Dunn has students of all skill levels, there remains a gap in student achievement, particularly between the school’s African-American students and the rest of the students. Such gaps were a major consideration for state educational leaders more than five years ago, when Kentucky became the first state to adopt the Common Core…”

Schools and Child Poverty – Cincinnati, OH

  • ‘This is a crisis’: Suburban poverty growing, school lunch data shows, By Emilie Eaton, May 21, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “In 10 years, Chris Burkhardt has seen a dramatic spike in school lunch program participation. It’s a double-edged sword, he says. On one hand, the program guarantees kids are receiving nutritious meals that help them succeed in the classroom. On the other hand, many students aren’t receiving those same nutritious meals at home. ‘We’re happy folks are utilizing the program, but it’s difficult knowing families can’t provide fruits and vegetables at home,’ said Burkhardt, director of child nutrition at Lakota Local Schools.  In 2015, roughly 3,800 students in Lakota Local Schools received a meal through the school lunch program, a federal program that provides free or discounted lunch to students whose families live in or near poverty…”
  • What is CPS doing to combat poverty?, By Emilie Eaton, May 23, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “The kids steadily trickle into the lunch room here, grabbing a tray before picking out an entree, a vegetable, a fruit and a snack. BBQ beef on a bun? Peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Shredded chicken salad? Green beans? Celery? No complaints here. These kids want it all. ‘This is their opportunity to get five fruits and vegetables a day,’ said Principal Belinda Tubbs-Wallace. ‘Some of them don’t get that at home.’  This is Rockdale Academy, where all 402 students receive a free lunch under the school lunch program, a national program that provides a free or discounted lunch to students living below or near the federal poverty level…”

School Segregation in the US

  • On the anniversary of Brown v. Board, new evidence that U.S. schools are resegregating, By Emma Brown, May 17, 2016, Washington Post: “Poor, black and Hispanic children are becoming increasingly isolated from their white, affluent peers in the nation’s public schools, according to new federal data showing that the number of high-poverty schools serving primarily black and brown students more than doubled between 2001 and 2014. The data was released by the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday, 62 years to the day after the Supreme Court decided that segregated schools are ‘inherently unequal’ and therefore unconstitutional…”
  • GAO study: Segregation worsening in U.S. schools, By Greg Toppo, May 17, 2016, USA Today: “America’s public schools – 62 years after the Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education decision – are increasingly segregated by race and class, according to new findings by Congress’ watchdog agency that echo what advocates for low-income and minority students have said for years.  U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigators found that from the 2000-2001 to the 2013-2014 school year, both the percentage of K-12 public schools in high-poverty and the percentage comprised of mostly African-American or Hispanic students grew significantly, more than doubling, from 7,009 schools to 15,089 schools. The percentage of all schools with so-called racial or socio-economic isolation grew from 9% to 16%…”

Pell Grants for High School Students in College Courses

Low-income high schoolers to get grants for college courses, By Jennifer C. Kerr (AP), May 17, 2016, San Jose Mercury News: “For the first time, thousands of low-income high-school students in nearly two dozen states will soon be able to get federal grants to take college courses for credit, part of a program the Obama administration plans to begin this summer.  The experimental program allows high school students to apply for federal Pell grant money to pay for college courses. The ‘dual enrollment’ program is designed to help students from lower-income backgrounds…”