Saturday, December 10, 2016

The reason for “lousy” performance on international tests: Poverty.

Published in the Miami Herald, Dec. 15, 2016, as "Kids in Poverty"

Does Andres Oppenheimer want to know why "Latin America, U.S. do lousy on student math tests" (Dec. 8)? It's not because of the family culture or lack of commitment: Research consistently concludes that the real problem is poverty.

High poverty means food deprivation, lack of health care, and lack of access to reading material, all of which have to shown to have devastating effects on school performance and test scores.

Until we eliminate poverty, let's invest in food programs, school nurses, and libraries and at least protect children from some of the effects of poverty.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Original article:
Published letter:

Some sources on the effect of poverty on on test performance (not included in published letter)
Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential:  Out-of-School Factors and School Success.  Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved [date] from,  Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership  55(4): 18-22.

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