Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, quoted in Bridge, "Academic State Champs: Poverty doesn’t always predict school success in Michigan"Return to news listing
Academic State Champs: Poverty doesn’t always predict school success in Michigan
By Mike Wilkinson
Across Michigan, school districts face daunting challenges, educating students from families with high poverty and few college degrees. Conventional wisdom says the schools fail. But groundbreaking new research challenges that belief, showing that – in many cases – students in poor districts can learn and progress at the same rate as peers in wealthy districts. Districts with poor students typically test below average, while wealthy districts are almost always above average. “Poverty is not destiny and schools don’t exacerbate the (problems) that poverty brings,” said Sarah Lenhoff, an assistant professor at Wayne State University’s College of Education who has studied the impact of school choice. “When you look at growth like this over time you’re able to make a better assessment of what’s going on.” Other wealthy districts, though, may be “losing their advantage” because they started at above grade level but didn’t finish as far ahead by eighth grade, Lenhoff said. “That suggests that they are not doing everything they can to boost achievement,” Lenhoff said.