A View of Educating Students in Poverty

Achievement for All: Keys to Educating Middle Grades Students in Poverty
By Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D.
(Association for Middle Level Education, 2013 – Learn more)

LauraVonStadenReviewed by Laura Von Staden

Ruby K. Payne sums up her thesis this way: “the research is unmistakable, success in life is inextricably linked to success at the middle level….And it’s the future not only of the student but of our well-being and viability as a nation.” (pg. 90).

payne coverIn this short (96 pages), quick read Payne, author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty, describes the five areas of adolescent development, what it means to be an adolescent in poverty and what schools can do to improve the success and achievement of students in poverty.

Each of the chapters focuses on an area of development – physical, cognitive-intellectual, moral, psychological, and social-emotional – and begins with a list of characteristics from This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents (NMSA/AMLE, 2010).

Payne then describes the research about the particular area of development and how living in poverty affects development in that area. She provides a checklist for identifying resources and a list of possible interventions to assist students in their developmental paths.

In the final chapter Payne identifies key considerations to raising achievement for under-resourced students. She discusses the importance of leadership, a positive school culture, advisory periods, and parent training to name a few. She also provides rubrics for attaining expertise.

This is a very short, very concise, highly referenced book on the incredibly important topic of adolescent development and the role of poverty. While well written and referenced at times, it felt as if there could have been a bit more, particularly with reference to potential interventions specific to adolescents living in under-resourced environments.

Laura Von Staden is a Special Education Middle School Teacher in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees both at her school and within her district and works closely with the local university where she is a Professional Practice Partner and a master mentor.Dr. Von Staden also facilitates both online and face-to-face Professional Development within her district.

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