Instructional Strategies for Academic Success in High Poverty, High Performing Schools

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Virginia Tech


The No Child Left Behind Act (2001) requires schools to increase academic performance and close the achievement gaps between sub-groups of students. As schools work to increase student performance in all academic areas, educators must identify the needs of each sub-group of students they services and determine which instructional practices meet their unique needs. Students living in poverty enter school with a distinctive set of needs and therefore require instructional practices that meet these needs.

The researcher in this study strived to identify instructional practices that were being used in high and low performing Title I schools and compared the similarities and differences between the practices. Data reported from the study might inform school leaders regarding what instructional practices are effective when working in schools with high concentrations of students living in poverty.

This qualitative study of four Title I eligible schools in an urban district in southeastern Virginia, involved interviews and focus groups. Interviews and focus groups focused on instructional practices (strategies, programs, and other factors) that influence academic achievement of students in high and low performing Title I eligible schools. Findings revealed that high performing Title I schools used student performance data to drive instruction; focused on teaching students enriching vocabulary; used the strategies of note taking, explicit instruction, similarities and differences, nonlinguistic representation, graphic organizers, and cooperative learning; conducted mentorship programs for teachers and students; utilized computer based instructional programs with fidelity; believed in their students and cared about their students; provided professional development to teachers; and implemented student reward/recognition programs.



elementary school, poverty, low socio-economic status, instructional strategies, economically disadvantaged students, effective schools