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For over 10 years, NYKids researchers have focused on  schools with high concentrations of students eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch yet consistently better than predicted levels of student performance.

Odds-beating schools share the following characteristics as they educate students in communities with high poverty (indicated by 50% or more of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch):

•  a vision of success;

• collaboration and shared responsibility;

• evidence-based instruction & decision-making.

Educators in odds-beating schools have a vision of success that includes high poverty students achieving beyond predicted levels.

  • High expectations are coupled with support that is tailored to the student population and personalized. Examples include:
AIS/ SPED tightly tied to classroom learning objectives (e.g., lab classes)
After school & before school programs, and other beyond-school time, with transportation provided to all students
Access to rigorous courses
Special and alternative programs for at-risk students
Support for families
  • Rigorous expectations include high standards for behavior that focus on student aspirations, student self-monitoring, and student self-management.

Read case study examples of how this is done in Eastridge HS, Westbury MS, John F. Kennedy MS, and Columbus ES.

Educators in odds-beating schools have a collaborative culture and share responsibility for student achievement.

  • Shared leadership and decision making about important issues are all focused on student learning.  Examples include collaborative decision making about grade configurations, department and or grade goals and plans, and professional learning.

See examples from Jefferson MS, Rochester Elementary School 19, and Portchester MS.

  • Collaboration also includes interdisciplinary instruction, such as problem-based learning and teaming, as well as community building

Examples of interdisciplinary instruction can be seen in Columbus ES, Centennial Avenue ES.
Community building examples come from
Downsville HS, Otselic Valley Jr-Sr HS, Rochester Elementary School 19, Saunders Trades & Technical HS, S. Kortright CSD, & Westbury MS.

Educators in odds-beating schools use evidence to guide instruction and decision-making by collecting and analyzing a variety of “hard” and “soft” data.

  • These include real time, frequent assessments of learning and close personal attention to every student’s academic and social/ emotional well being.
  • The use of data encourages timely and targeted interventions, allows for ongoing & continuous monitoring of progress, and informs the reallocation of resources if needed.

Examples of evidence-based decision making and instruction can be found in Rochester Elementary School 19, Downsville HS,  & Ulysses Byas ES.

See the following NYKids publications & presentations to learn more about practices associated with supporting academic achievement for students living in poverty:

NYSASCD December 2014 issue of the journal Impact. Read several articles related to Poverty, Performance, and Practice in this special edition edited by Janet Angelis.

Poverty, performance, and frog ponds: What best-practice research tells us about their connections. Phi Delta Kappan, November 2011. Article.

Poverty and Its Effect on Students' Ability to Learn. A panel discussion at the NYSASCD and Capital Region BOCES Symposium, November 5, 2013. Presentation slides

Diversity, poverty and resilience: Results from a multiple case study of higher-achieving elementary schools. Paper presented at the 2013 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA.Presentation slides.