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It's True!! Up To 40% of America's Low Income Students Do Not Graduate From High School

Low Income Students Chart

Yes, it's true. Recent studies on graduation rates for students in America indicate that the lowest graduation rate is often among poor students. Poor students are defined as those who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. The rates could also be understated since not all who qualify may take advantage of free lunches. The statistics come as a surprise to some who thought that a lack of education was more race related.

One example is a study done by the Michigan education department. Graduation rates were divided into groups that included Asian, Female, Male, White, Black, students with disabilities, and poor students. Poor students ranked at the very bottom. In one county, graduation rates for poor students ranked 60.3 percent, below black students ranking 67.8 percent. The highest rating was Asian at 95.5 percent. So, how is money related to whether or not students graduate from high school?

The Problem Is Often Rooted With Social and Family Issues

Students from low-income families often experience social and family circumstances that make it difficult for them to learn and stay in school. It's not unusual for these students to have to take care of younger siblings in the family or find jobs to help out financially, often missing school in the process. But even younger children in grade school will often experience the pain of being different, not being able to dress like other students, missing out on field trips due to lack of money, or even playground activities because they don't have proper clothing.

In addition, studies have shown that the vocabulary of students from poor families is about 4,000 - 5,000 words less than students from other families. Other disadvantages may include lack of transportation to get to school, or not getting the personal attention they need if they are struggling in a subject area. Many eventually feel so frustrated and overwhelmed, they end up dropping out of high school.

What's The Solution?

Household income often does make a difference in how well students perform in school and whether or not they graduate. It is a diabolic situation when students do not get the education they deserve because of family income. One solution was suggested by Kevin Karr, Principal at Ann Arbor's King Elementary School, where only four percent of students qualify as poor. He stated the need to "make sure they are connected to school, so they can learn."

Awareness is key to recognizing the situation of students in need. In addition, some schools have responded with programs that attempt to remove some of the barriers with free after-school tutoring and enrichment programs. It is not just an academic issue but a social one as well that schools should be aware of and address.

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