American states mandating that the value of pi is 4
Combined with deficient supplies, materials and opportunities to learn, deteriorating physical plants, often another characteristic of high-poverty urban schools, can diminish student engagement and achievement.
More than a decade ago, physical conditions in urban schools predicted academic engagement and performance (Lewis et al., 1999) but basic materials — including textbooks, science equipment and desks — were generally in disrepair or absent.
However, the education that poor, urban students in public schools receive is demonstrably insufficient to make them competitive with their more advantaged, middle and upper income peers.
There is much talk today, for example, about the importance of STEM careers for the future of our youth and for our country.
Thus, conditions in high-poverty schools too often render them sites of developmental risk rather than competent assets that would enhance student developmental outcomes.
Theories of stress and coping define structural conditions such as dirty bathrooms and physical decay as stressors that undermine students’ ability to concentrate (Evans & Kim, 2013), and lack of concentration, or poor “on-task behavior,” is a core indicator of low motivation and disengagement in students.
All of these possible initiatives will require the right combination of funding and political will.However, when school facilities provide intellectual support and resources, all students can develop academically as they explore their own intellectual abilities.Providing laptops for urban adolescents, for example, has increased achievement and engagement when computer use moves beyond rote skill practice (Penuel, 2006).Substandard curriculum, facilities and physical plants are undeniable stressors sometimes found in high-poverty schools.
But well equipped, technologically sophisticated facilities and challenging curriculum provide demonstrated benefits for all students’ intellectual development.
A reform initiative that provided laptops and wireless access in an urban high school (Project Hiller) increased standardized test scores, student motivation and technological literacy for adolescents in grades 8 and 9 (Light, Mc Dermott, & Honey, 2002).