Policy Brief: Schools and Poverty

March 17, 2015. The state can improve low-performing schools and help students who face learning barriers by increasing funding for key education programs and poverty-fighting efforts. Proposals by the governor and the legislature are a start, but still fall short of what is needed.

In a report issued in February, the state identified 178 schools in 17 school districts as “priority” or “failing” schools. These schools score in the bottom 5 percent in student proficiency tests or have low graduation rates, or both. The school districts that are home to these priority schools teach students who face many challenges.

  • They live in communities that are among the poorest in the state with the least resources to improve local schools. Three times as many school age children live in poverty in districts with priority schools than in other New York school districts.
  • Over three-fourths of the students in priority schools are eligible for the federal free or reduced price lunch program.
  • Many of these students are not proficient in English or are from minority families with disproportionately high levels of unemployment and poverty. More than 9 out of 10 students in these schools are minorities.
To read the full report, click here.