In her article, “Why American Schools Are Even More Unequal Than We Thought” Susan Dynarski argues that the current standard measure of economic disadvantage is flawed. Due to this, many children who are persistently poor face more challenges in the classroom than we think. The condition is so dire that half the children in the nation are eligible for subsidized meal options in school.
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Dynarski worked with Katherine Michelmore, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Michigan, to analyze data collected by Michigan Consortium for Educational Research on the subject. The analysis revealed that the achievement gap is also underestimated when it comes to comparisons between rich and poor children in the school setting. The two suggest that the math scores of the less privileged children are far lower than all others.
This is attributed to the inaccessibility of meals in the school. Interestingly, the achievement gap, according to the data analyzed by Dynarski and Michelmore, is much higher than what is reported by the standard measure of economic disadvantage used by the government. Dynarski goes further to state that there is a linear negative relationship between the number of years a child was considered persistently disadvantaged and their math scores.
This proves that their education is misbalanced for a longer duration of time, and this eventually affects their employability. The additional fact that many of the persistently disadvantaged children live with one parent and/or have parents who did not attend college makes it difficult to break the cycle. Dynarski suggests that the use of the standard measure of economic disadvantage should not be applied to economic disadvantage. She states that the application of eligibility for subsidized meals is a better way of getting the required data and initiating change.
Dynarski, Susan. “Why American Schools Are Even More Unequal Than We Thought.” The New York Times. 2016, pp. 427-429.