Special Education M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Strand, Charles


One of the biggest travesties that is present globally across all nations is poverty. Despite being the wealthiest country in the world, “in 2015 there were 43.1 million people in poverty.” (Proctor, Bernadette D. 2015). Additionally, millions more struggle just to survive on a monthly basis with and/or without public assistance. Sadly, this large number of Americans includes school aged children that are suffering from the devastation of the poverty. Children are the future of our nation. Thus, it is critical that all children receive a proper education for them to be a positive member of society across the country. “Poverty reduces a child’s readiness for school because it leads to poor physical health and motor skills, diminishes a child’s ability to concentrate and remember information, and reduces attentiveness, curiosity and motivation” (, 2013). Aside from devastation various communities in the United States due to poverty, the effects are now negatively impacting the future of our students in our educational system. Often times the obstacles presented by poverty and education include a lack of resources (at home and school), parental assistance on classwork at home, high mobility and lack of preparation at a young age. However, poverty plays a lot of different roles based on the type of socio-economic environment a specific student is born into or raised in. For example, poverty will present numerous challenges living in an urban setting compared to a child living in a rural area. Students that are living in an inner-city, low socioeconomic neighborhood will face more hardships regarding their education due to lack of resources, behaviors in/outside of school, and the negative temptations that a large population of them face on a daily basis. This thesis reviews various types of both past and current literature regarding the effects of poverty has on education for students living in low income urban neighborhoods. The questions conducting the review examine the pivotal role poverty plays on education throughout all grade levels. Next, the effects and challenges that a child born and/or raised in will endure on a daily basis inside and outside of school. Lastly, the obstacles students and schools face in impoverished neighborhoods to deliver proper education to have a successful academic achievement outcome. Results from the review of literature found that due to the effects from living in poverty, children failing academically are a manifestation of their socio-economic environment. Additionally, students, teachers, and schools are at a discrete disadvantage in education compared to their counterparts living in higher socio-economic, rural communities. The United States policy on education as a nation and local level as well as school districts, and teachers are all vital to providing disadvantaged children the opportunity for academic achievement. The thesis author uses data from literature, interviews, and personal experiences to provide the different effects of poverty on academics and behavior. Furthermore, the author provides feedback on how educators can enhance classroom engagement, provide resources to help eliminate delinquency and show students living in poverty the benefits of retaining an education.

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis