NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1084033
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
America's Mediocre Test Scores: Education Crisis or Poverty Crisis?
Petrilli, Michael J.; Wright, Brandon L.
Education Next, v16 n1 p46-52 Win 2016
At a time when the national conversation is focused on lagging upward mobility, it is no surprise that many educators point to poverty as the explanation for mediocre test scores among U.S. students compared to those of students in other countries. If American teachers in struggling U.S. schools taught in Finland, says Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg, they would flourish, in part, because of "support from homes unchallenged by poverty." Michael Rebell and Jessica Wolff at Columbia University's Teachers College argue that middling test scores reflect a "poverty crisis" in the United States, not an "education crisis." Adding union muscle to the argument, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten calls poverty "the elephant in the room" that accounts for poor student performance. But does the room actually contain the elephant? To prove that poverty is the major factor driving America's meager academic achievement, at least two of the following three claims need to be established: (1) Poverty is related to lower levels of student learning; (2) America's poor students perform worse than other countries' poor students; and (3) The poverty rate in the United States is substantially higher than the rates in countries with which it is compared. Each of these claims is examined in this article.
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada; Finland; Germany; Ireland; Luxembourg; Netherlands; United Kingdom; United States
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Program for International Student Assessment
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A