Friday, July 6, 2018

What Can Be Done for Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds?

With an MS in school psychology, Rebecca Lowry, PhD, served as assistant superintendent at Chichester School District in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, where she improved the school’s performance by introducing and implementing local quarterly assessments which helped predict student success on required state and federal assessments. Including her experience as a superintendent, Dr. Rebecca Lowry accumulated over 20 years of experience designing academic programs aimed at maximizing growth and providing college options for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Students who have been hindered from excelling in school due to unfortunate and/or uncontrollable circumstances end up disadvantaged. Such circumstances encompass financial and/or social hardships, family issues, and natural disaster-related consequences which for disadvantaged populations may be virtually impossible to overcome. The middle-class perspective is often quite contrasting, in that a temporary set back just requires "a little more effort to move out, on, and up". Disadvantaged students can become stuck caring for other family members, for example, following a disaster while opportunities while accessible are fleeting......"grabbed up by those who have the resources to change their plans in the moment". Thus, the career ladder progress is not hampered for them. 

To help such students, government agencies and school districts have suggested applying groundbreaking teaching strategies and implementing after-school programs. Some techniques that may be beneficial for students from disadvantaged backgrounds include:

- Sticking to routines. Without a routine, students may get distracted and lessons may be disrupted. Identifying clear expectations and goals saves time and encourages more focus on the lessons that need to be accomplished. For instance, if students expect a short review when they come to class, they will be more likely to arrive prepared for an assessment. Moreover, if the timing and purpose of handouts is clear, students will know what to do with them and their response will be automatic.

- Encouraging participation through directed questioning. When students know that their teacher will not settle for an “I don’t know” answer, they will try for a better response by referring to their notes. This not only encourages involvement, but also ensures that students have understood the lesson.

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