Poverty Interventions

All Research

High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools: Research Review

This report reviews the research and strategies for achieving high levels of student performance in high poverty schools.


Center for Public Education. (2005, August 22). High-performing, high-poverty schools: Research review. Retrieved December 8, 2016, from Center for Public Education, http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/High-performing-high-poverty-schools-At-a-glance-/High-performing-high-poverty-schools-Research-review.html

Educating Amid Uncertainty: The Organizational Supports Teachers Need to Serve Students in High-Poverty, Urban Schools

This study examined how uncertainty, both about students and the context in which they are taught, remains a persistent condition of teachers’ work in high-poverty, urban schools. Their conclusion: Traditional public schools are open systems and require systematic organizational responses to address the uncertainty introduced by their environments. Uncoordinated individual efforts alone are not sufficient to meet the needs of students in high-poverty urban communities.

Kraft, M. A., Papay, J. P., Johnson, S. M., Charner-Laird, M., Ng, M., & Reinhorn, S. (2015). Educating amid uncertainty. Educational Administration Quarterly, 51(5), 753–790. doi:10.1177/0013161X15607617

Value Added of Teachers in High–Poverty Schools and Lower–Poverty Schools

This study examined the complex linkages between teacher quality and socio-economic-based disparities in student achievement. The gap in teacher quality appears to arise from the lower payoff to teacher qualifications in high-poverty schools. In particular, the experience-productivity relationship is weaker in high-poverty schools and is not related to teacher mobility patterns. Recruiting teachers with good credentials into high-poverty schools may be insufficient to narrow the teacher quality gap. Policies that promote the long-term productivity of teachers in challenging high-poverty schools appear key.




Sass, T., Hannaway, J., Xu, Z., Figlio, D., & Feng, L. (2016, June). Value added of teachers in high-poverty schools and lower-poverty schools. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/research/publication/value-added-teachers-high-poverty-schools-and-lower-poverty-schools

The Condition of Education, 2010 Spotlight: High-Poverty Schools

This report provides extensive data on the high-poverty schools and the students who attend them. It also provides information on principals, teachers, and staff who work in them.

Aud, S., Hussar, W., Planty, M., Snyder, T., Bianco, K., Fox, M., Frohlich, L., Kemp, J., Drake, L. (2010). The Condition of Education 2010 (NCES 2010-028). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

A Synthesis of Empirical Research on Teaching Mathematics to Low-Achieving Students

This meta-analysis synthesized research on the effects of interventions to improve mathematics achievement of students considered at risk for academic failure. It found that effective interventions included providing teachers and students with student performance data; using peer tutors; providing clear, specific feedback to parents on children's mathematics success; and using explicit instruction to teach math.

Baker, S., Gersten, R., & Lee, D. S. (2002). A synthesis of empirical research on teaching mathematics to low-achieving students. The Elementary School Journal, 51-73.

The effects of school-based decision-making on educational outcomes in low- and middle-income contexts: a systematic review

This review assesses the effectiveness of school-based curricula, finance, management, and teacher’s decision-making. This report has implications for the impact of charter schools, as the primary intervention in this model is local control. The report finds limited evidence of the effectiveness of these reforms, especially from low-income countries.

Carr-Hill, R., Rolleston, C., Pherali, T., & Schendel, R. (2014). The effects of school-based decision making on educational outcomes in low-and middle-income contexts: A systematic review.

Gauging Goodness of Fit: Teachers’ Assessments of their Instructional Teams in High-Poverty Schools

Rich opportunities for learning are important for all teachers. Whatever expertise they
acquire in their pre-service program, teachers continue to need ongoing professional learning in order to meet additional responsibilities and the evolving needs of their students and schools. Continuous learning is especially vital for teachers who work in the dynamic and demanding environments of high-poverty, urban schools.

Charner-Laird, M., Ng, M., Johnson, S. M., Kraft, M. A., Papay, J. P., & Reinhorn, S. K. (2016). Gauging Goodness of Fit: Teachers’ Assessments of their Instructional Teams in High-Poverty Schools. Retrieved from http://projectngt.gse.harvard.edu/files/gse-projectngt/files/gauging_goodness_of_fit_0622916.pdf

Do Bonuses Affect Teacher Staffing and Student Achievement in High-Poverty Schools? Evidence from an Incentive for National Board Certified Teachers in Washington State

This study examined a teacher incentive policy in Washington State that awards a financial bonus to National Board Certified Teachers who teach in high-poverty schools. It found that the bonus policy increased the proportion of National Board Certified Teachers in bonus-eligible schools, through increases in both the number of existing NBCTs hired and the probability that teachers at these schools apply for certification. However, it do not find evidence that the bonus resulted in detectible effects on student test achievement.

Cowan, J., & Goldhaber, D. (2015). Do bonuses affect teacher staffing and student achievement in high-poverty schools? Evidence from an Incentive for National Board Certified Teachers in Washington State. Center for Education Data & Research.

Why Do High-Poverty Schools Have Difficulty Staffing Their Classrooms with Qualified Teachers?

This report investigates the possibility that the characteristics and conditions of schools are behind the teacher shortage crisis. The data indicate that school staffing problems are not primarily due to teacher shortages, in the sense of an insufficient supply of qualified teachers. Rather, the data indicate that school staffing problems are primarily due to a “revolving door” – where large numbers of qualified teachers depart from their jobs long before retirement. The data show that much of the turnover is accounted for by teacher job dissatisfaction and teachers pursuing other jobs. Significant numbers of those who depart from their jobs in these schools report that they are hampered by inadequate support from the school administration, too many intrusions on classroom teaching time, student discipline problems and limited faculty input into school decision-making.

Ingersoll, R. M. (2004). Why do high-poverty schools have difficulty staffing their classrooms with qualified teachers? (Report prepared for Renewing Our Schools, Securing Our Future—A National Task Force on Public Education). Washington, DC: The Center for American Progress and the Institute for America’s Future. Retrieved from https://scholar.gse.upenn.edu/rmi/files/ingersoll-final.pdf.

Educating Amidst Uncertainty: The Organizational Supports Teachers Need to Serve Students in High-poverty, Urban Schools

This study examined teachers need for organizational responses that addressed the environmental uncertainty of working with students from disadvantaged neighborhoods. It described four types of organizational responses — coordinated instructional supports, systems to promote order and discipline, socio-emotional supports for students, and efforts to engage parents — and illustrate how these responses affected teachers’ ability to manage the uncertainty introduced by their environment.

Kraft, M. A., Papay, J. P., Johnson, S. M., Charner-Laird, M., Ng, M., & Reinhorn, S. (2015). Educating Amid Uncertainty The Organizational Supports Teachers Need to Serve Students in High-Poverty, Urban Schools. Educational Administration Quarterly, 51(5), 753-790.

School Segregation and Racial Academic Achievement Gaps

This study found that one aspect of segregation in particular—the disparity in average school poverty rates between white and black students’ schools—is consistently the single most powerful correlate of achievement gaps. This implies that high-poverty schools are, on average, much less effective than lower-poverty schools, and suggests that strategies that reduce the differential exposure of black, Hispanic, and white students to poor classmates may lead to meaningful reductions in academic achievement gaps.

Reardon, S.F. (2015). School Segregation and Racial Academic Achievement Gaps (CEPA Working Paper No.15-12). Retrieved from Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis: http://cepa.stanford.edu/wp15-12

Teacher Turnover in High-Poverty Schools: What We Know and Can Do

This paper reviews evidence from six recent studies, which collectively suggest that teachers who leave high-poverty schools are not fleeing their students, but rather the poor working conditions that make it difficult for them to teach and their students to learn. They include school leadership, collegial relationships, and elements of school culture.

Simon, N. S., & Johnson, S. M. (2013). Teacher turnover in high-poverty schools: What we know and can do. Teachers College Record, 117, 1-36

A New Majority: Low Income Students Now a Majority In the Nation’s Public Schools

For the first time in recent history, a majority of the schoolchildren attending the nation’s public schools come from low income families. The latest data collected from the states by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), evidence that 51 percent of the students across the nation’s public schools were low income in 2013.


Suitts, Steve. A New Majority Research Bulletin: Low Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation's Public Schools. Southern Education Foundation. (2015).

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