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Inequality in education across United States result of poverty

Published: Friday, Nov. 1 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

P-Tech teacher Jamilah Seifullah helps Seifullah Ashton Williams (right) and Leyronne Davis (left) with their math. Where you live may determine the quality of education your child receives, according to new research from leading educational foundations in the U.S.

Elizabeth Stuart

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American education is the land of the unequal, according to recent study from the National Center for Educational Statistics, and poverty is to blame.

"(The study) attempts to rank how individual states compare internationally and ends up showing a wide gap between the highest-performing states and the lowest," according to an article from The Atlantic.

Results were tabulated from 2011 math and science scores from the National Assessment of Education Process, which are administered in every state, and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, a test administered to eight graders internationally in 38 countries, according to the article.

Findings indicated that Massachusetts does quite well against other countries, while Mississippi, Alabama and the District of Columbia do poorly.

"But the big picture is that, as in so many other things, the U.S. is a deeply divided nation when it comes to educational excellence. Some states crank out geniuses while others mass-produce mediocrity. And one of the reasons why is most certainly poverty," The Atlantic reported in a related article about the study's findings.

There is a strong correlation, the article suggests, between academic achievement from state to state and financial deprivation.

"Generally, states with more low-income students fared worse in both (math and science). ... Low-income students tend to be low-achieving students, and poor communities have fewer resources to devote to their schools," the article reported.

In a third Atlantic article, additional research from the Southern Education Foundation suggests that almost half of all students in public school come from a low-income home.

Across the nation, 48 percent of students qualify as coming from low-income homes, a rate that has increased 10 percent in the last 10 years.

"In America, what you earn depends largely on your success in school. Unfortunately, your success in school depends largely on what your parents earn. It's an intergenerational Catch-22 that's at the heart of modern poverty," the article reported.

Email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: emmiliewhitlock

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