Megan White

Date of Award

Winter 2018

Document Type




Committee Chair

Kelly Clark


In America today, there are approximately 103 million people living below the line of poverty (Edelman, p. 4). This means that 103 million people are supporting a family of three or more with less than $36,000 (p. 4). Therefore, one-third of America today lives in poverty (p. 4). Within those 103 million, there are approximately 20.5 million people in America who fall into the category of “deep poverty,” making less than $9,000 for a family of three or more (p. 5). These people make up about 6.7% of the population (p. 5). Finally, within these 20.5 million people, there are about 6 million who do not have any income at all (p. 5). Since one-third of America lives in poverty today, our future generations are likely to have even greater numbers of poverty according to the phenomenon of generational poverty. Generational poverty occurs when “a parent’s poverty permanently affects the lives of his/her children” (Getting, p.2). Living in poverty causes children to gain cognitive, behavioral, and emotional deficits, putting them at a vast disadvantage in education and in professional attainment (p. 2). This is due to the fact these children have access to fewer resources, and live in a world of disadvantage (p. 3). The living environments of these children often involve limited access to food, higher pollution rates, overcrowded and overfunded schools, and higher crime rates (p. 3). Children from poverty also often develop the attributes their parents display and lack proper role models. Therefore, they often have poor nutritional habits, a lack of self-confidence, and little reading abilities (p. 5). Additionally, children from poverty also tend to move quite frequently, causing an increased amount of stress (p. 4). In fact, adults who were raised in poverty tend to continue to exhibit problems with stress and emotional processing (p. 4). Altogether, the deficits of poverty cause children raised in these situations to be 72% more likely to raise their own children in poverty, and thus continuing the cycle of generational poverty (p. 5).

The effects of poverty affect all aspects of a child’s life, but specifically cause deficits in their education. Although this puts students in poverty at a disadvantage as they begin their learning, there are many strategies and methods that teachers can use to help support these students in order to prevent them from falling behind due to reasons beyond their control. One of the best ways that educators can help students in poverty break the cycle of generational poverty is by unlocking their potential and ability to succeed in school (The Cycle, p. 16). Success in the world of education can unlock many opportunities for these students that will otherwise likely fall back into the cycle of generational poverty. This study evaluates the problems that children in poverty often face, and the strategies that teachers can use to combat these problems. In addition, this study evaluates the problems faced by students in an actual elementary setting and describes the strategies that would be effective in this setting. This research is an action research study designed to investigate what poverty means for student achievement and the best practices for teaching students in poverty.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.