It’s Not Just the Schools: Why Helping Families in Poverty Could Boost Students’ Test Scores

A review of research finds positive benefits to boosting family well-being
(EWA Radio: Episode 183)

In the debate over how to boost student achievement, especially among kids from low-income families, out-of-school factors are often cited as hurdles that even the best school-based programs and services can’t fully overcome. But what about programs that focus on lifting an entire family out of poverty? Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat looked at 20 studies that evaluated the impact of interventions like earned income-tax credits, federal nutrition and housing programs, and improved health care. Among his findings: many of the programs were linked to better student outcomes, such as higher graduation rates and tests scores. In some cases, the gains were similar to the effect of having a more effective teacher or a smaller class size. How do these findings line up with efforts by educators and policymakers to address the impact of poverty on student learning? What are some of the caveats in the studies? Why are such studies not likely to be found in education-related research journals? Plus, Barnum shares story ideas and tips for local reporters looking to make better use of education research.

This episode of EWA Radio originally aired on October 3, 2018.

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