“If you have a kid who’s hungry, they can’t concentrate — that’s the bottom line,” said Al Hammel, who taught at Northeastern Clinton Central School for several years and has taught at schools with impoverished students in a number of states.
Students from low-income homes may also lack one-on-one time with their parents, who may be working multiple jobs or double shifts to make ends meet, added Moriah Central Superintendent William Larrow.
“Some tend to not have the opportunity to be exposed to various opportunities that other students are exposed to,” he said.
“They don’t have parents that take them to museums; they don’t have parents that read them books every night,” Hammel added.
Larrow noted that his is one of many area schools dealing with the effects of poverty.
But after being identified by the state as a district in need of improving the performance of its low-income population on state tests in the past, he said, Moriah Central worked with an outside educational expert on implementing the state-mandated Common Core Learning Standards and on increasing academic intervention and response to intervention services.
“I think the biggest thing is we’ve been able to target students’ needs more individually,” he said.
Moriah Central’s staff and teachers work hard to find ways to help them learn, Larrow noted.
And while the district may not perform well on state tests in grades three through eight, it tends to do well with Regents exams and graduation rates.
“It just may take our students a little longer to get to where they need to be,” the superintendent said.
It’s important, Beatham noted, that the public be aware that poverty is a factor that must be considered when deliberating the state of education.