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Combating the Effects of Poverty in the Classroom

The number of American children living in poverty has increased to approximately 15 million. The effects of poverty impact not just their performance in class, but also their access to important tools like reliable internet access. Educators can attempt to level the playing field and give children in poverty the skills and resources they need to be successful students, but to do this, teachers must have an understanding of the relationship between academic achievement and socioeconomic status.

This course explores the nature of poverty and its effects on child development. It provides teachers with an understanding of poverty, but more importantly, it gives them the strategies and tools they need to create an educational framework to meet the needs of impoverished students. 


Carlow University ED 699 • Madonna University EDU 5830.40 •

Mercy University EDUT 514


The required text for this course is Poor Students, Rich Teaching by Eric Jensen. ISBN 978-1947604636.

Graduate participants earn 3 semester hours of graduate credit and will receive a transcript from one of our partner institutions below. Professional development participants will receive a certificate of completion for 45 hours of professional developments credit for face-to-face classes and 60 hours of professional development credit for online classes.

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Course Schedule

  • 2/13/24 - 5/14/24
  • 4/9/24 - 7/9/24
  • 6/11/24 - 9/10/24
  • 8/13/24 - 11/12/24
  • 10/8/24 - 1/14/25
  • 12/10/24 - 3/11/25

Course Schedule



Introduction: Introductions


  • Email introduction

Session/Module 1: What Do Educators Need to Know to Understand the Nature of Poverty?


  • Define Poverty
  • Examine current statistical data pertaining to poverty in America
  • Identify the criteria families must meet to be considered poor in America
  • Explore how poverty affects children emotionally, socially, cognitively, and developmentally

Session/Module 2: How Does Generational Poverty Differ from Situational Poverty?


  • Define types of poverty
  • Identify the different types of poverty in terms of the following factors: home life, importance of personality, ability to entertain, importance of relationships, matriarchal structure, survival, discipline, and fate

Session/Module 3: Why is There Such a Stark Disparity in Academic Achievement Between Socio-Economic Groups


  • Investigate the effects of poverty on the brain
  • Differentiate between emotional and social challenges
  • Demonstrate how to build respect and social skills

Session/Module 4: What are the Culture and Values of Poverty?


  • Appraise the role of family members living in poverty
  • Explore language and story telling  among families in poverty
  • Investigate the resources available to people living in poverty
  • Explore group expectations with the impoverished community

Session/Module 5: What are the Hidden Rules of Social Classes and How Do They Impact Students at School?


  • Identify the hidden rules of each social class         
  • Express how the rules define school behavior and performance

Session/Module 6: How Can We Change the Negative Effects that Poverty has on Children’s Brains?


  • Investigate the relationship between neuroplasticity and gene expression
  • Evaluate changing IQ
  • Research fluidity of intelligence
  • Create an educational intervention plan and long term enrichment

Session/Module 7: Which Policies have the Greatest Positive Affect on the Brains of Students Raised in Poverty?


  • Examine how to support of the whole child
  • Investigate how data influences instruction
  • Explore ways to increase  educational accountability
  • Develop strategies  for building relationships
  • Create an enriched mind-set

Session/Module 8: What Does Improvement Look Like from the Classroom Perspective?


  • Explore standards based curriculum and instruction
  • Examine ways of building hope among children living in poverty
  •  Evaluate arts, athletics, and advanced placement programs
  •  Analyze best teaching practices that creates engaging instruction

Session/Module 9: How Can We Create School Wide Success?


  • Explore relationship building among staff
  • Define and redesigning staff roles in schools
  • Create a staff wide enrichment program

Session/Module 10: Tying it All Together


  • Complete Action Research/Integration Project
  • Complete Personal Position Paper
  • Complete Student Survey
  • Develop working definitions for poor and low-income families.
  • Identify the criterion that characterizes poor from low-income families.
  • Examine the impact poverty has on the whole child.
  • Explore the various types of poverty and the different influences each presents when working with these students in the school setting.
  • Identify the ways in which the culture of poverty can influence relationships.
  • Investigate the relationship between academic and socio-economic status.
  • Explore the theory and research of how poverty effects the brain development of children enduring deprivation.
  • Acquire a basic knowledge of how the culture of poverty impacts values, communication and one’s ability to successfully interact with society norms.
  • Critique the different sets of rules that govern behavior within the social classes and analyze how those rules impact student learning.
  • Evaluate and create an action plan that addresses the need for students to be able to identify when which set of rules is acceptable.
  • Explore strategies that can have a positive impact on the neuroplasticity of the brains of children living in deprivation.
  • Explore and evaluate the different ways of measuring IQ.
  • Create a thematic unit that addresses specific strategies for intellectual growth.
  • Research current educational policies and research based educational programs that have displayed a positive effect on student learning.
  • Analyze how data can drive meaningful instruction.
  • Recognize and define the obstacles that prevent low socio-economic students from achieving and design strategies to bridge the gaps.
  • Explore and evaluate improvement possibilities for teacher professional development and community building.
  • Design a plan of action to lesson or remove the obstacles created by poverty to insure all students achieve to their highest ability.
Partner Universities

Our Partners are well-established regionally and nationally accredited colleges and universities, recognized for academic excellence and their commitment to teachers.

Important Information

Online 3-graduate credit courses are 13 weeks in length.

On-site weekend courses are held Friday evening from 6:00pm-9:00pm and Saturday/Sunday, 8:30am-5:30pm.

Weekday courses are Monday-Friday from 8:00am- 6:00pm.

It is the responsibility of the student to check with their state, county, district, or school to ensure that all requirements are being met by the course you're taking.  

Check the Partner Universities page for specific university information as well as course numbers which are specific to the university partner. 

Students are required to purchase their own textbook, the information for which can be found here. If no book is required it will be specified on the list. We have copies of many of the textbooks should you wish to purchase directly from TEI. 

Professional development (PD) participants receive a certificate of completion from TEI for 45 hours of PD credit for face to face classes and 60 hours of PD credit for online classes. These certificates are mailed within one week of the end of the class and reflect the course title, dates of attendance, and credit hour information. 

Student Academic Integrity
Participants guarantee that all academic class work is original. Any academic dishonesty or plagiarism (to take ideas, writings, etc. from another and offer them as one's own), is a violation of student academic behavior standards as outlined by our partnering colleges and universities and is subject to academic disciplinary action.