Changing staff dispositions: ending the perpetuation of “at-risk” for students from economically disadvantaged households

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jennifer Brinson (Creator)
Courtney Smith (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Heidi Von Dohlen

Abstract: The disproportionate number of students from economically disadvantaged householdsunderperforming in schools has been long studied and well documented. This study examines therole dispositions, attitudes, and perceptions teachers have toward students from economicallydisadvantaged households play in the attendance, office discipline referrals, and achievement ofthese students. Without deepening the equity literacy through systematic professionaldevelopment, educators will, without intended malice, continue to perpetuate these myths andpotentially lower their expectations of their students in poverty. The improvement initiativeincludes three professional development sessions to support development of teachers’ understanding of trauma-informed pedagogy, shift to asset-based ideology, and develop efficacy in working with students from economically disadvantaged households. Mixed methods were used to collect and evaluate data. Survey data were collected before and after the improvement initiative measuring teachers’ perceptions, attitudes, and knowledge in working with students from economically disadvantaged households. Student attendance, as well as student office referral rates, were measured monthly. Initial findings show an increase in teachers’ efficacy as well as an increase in asset-based thinking. Twenty-eight percent of participants changed their opinion to agree with the idea that situations outside a person’s control may cause poverty. Additionally, data collected from pre-initiative to post-initiative showed a student absence ratedrop of 4%, and an office discipline referral reduction of 45%. Lessons learned in improvinginstructional practices, increasing efficacy, and building teachers’ capacity to teach students from economically disadvantaged households should be considered when planning professionaldevelopment to support greater equity and access for all students.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Asset Based, Economically Disadvantaged, Efficacy, Poverty, Professional Development, Trauma Informed Pedagogy

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