Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type

Capstone Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Kristen Crossney, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Davis, MPA, Ph.D.


Schools are challenged to meet the ever-increasing needs of the students who walk through their doors. The needs of those students are far greater than academic. Poverty impacts more than a child’s education, but without the benefit of education the impact of poverty is even greater. The impact of poverty on the educational system has been examined with regard to lack of basic skills, lack of family support, and lagging development of language skills (see for example Payne, 2008, Jensen, 2013, Hernandez, 2011 and Zalasnick, 2016). The school district has struggled with stagnant and regressing academic achievement, and unlike other regional schools, it serves a large economically disadvantaged population.

In Pennsylvania, schools are judged by the Department of Education and given a School Performance Profile (SPP) score. This research considers if economically disadvantaged students may be a contributing factor to the academic achievement issue in the district by assessing the SPP score indicators with regard to the performance of students who are economically disadvantaged versus their peers. Economically disadvantaged students were found to have lower SAT performance, AP enrollments, and higher dropout rates than their peers. As a result of their poor performance, these economically disadvantaged students impact the overall school district’s academic achievement and growth as evidenced by the SPP score. Moving forward, the district will use the findings of this data to implement responsive systems that support students who live in poverty. That work has begun by tackling food insecurity, mental health concerns, truancy problems and academic supports.