Living in poverty has a profound effect on a student’s ability to learn. The premise behind Ruby Payne’s poverty work (A Framework for Understanding Poverty) is that students who come from generations of poverty may lack the skills needed to successfully negotiate the worlds of school and work. The first part of the course is designed to help participants understand the barriers that children and parents encounter at school.

Additionally, participants learn about evidence-based literacy and math strategies that have a proven effect size. Teachers choose cognitive strategies to practice in the classroom and collect performance data to increase instructional effectiveness.

Why framework for understanding poverty?

Children who live in poverty (at or below the U.S. poverty level) are likely to perform at a lower level on academic assessments than students from the middle class. Educators who understand the factors contributing to this are better prepared to assist students in developing the skills to increase academic achievement.

Ruby Payne’s qualitative work developed to determine the cause of low performance in students from poverty will assist educators to:

  • Understand the barriers encountered by students at school and in the community
  • Develop positive relationships with students and parents
  • Implement research-based cognitive strategies to improve student performance
  • Monitor student-centered interventions

A Framework for Understanding Poverty: Concepts and strategies is a 15-hour course which provides information on issues such as:

  • Resources
  • Family dynamics
  • Formal and abstract language
  • Hidden rules
  • Generational poverty
  • Positive relationships and support systems

In the second half of the class, using the book Research-Based Strategies: Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Under-Resourced Learners, participants learn about strategies and interventions that can improve student performance. Based upon an analysis of student resources and data, teachers select, implement and analyze strategies with a goal of improving the performance of under-resourced students.


Do you have questions? Want to know more? Get in touch with us!

The decision to offer A Framework for Understanding Poverty should be based upon:

  • Understanding the needs of under-resourced learners can lead to high achievement
  • Data indicating that students from poverty perform at a lower proficiency level than other students
  • Quantity of students on Free and Reduced Lunch has an impact on your overall performance scores

Occasionally, A Framework for Understanding Poverty is offered as an independent course offering and is listed in the Professional Development Course Catalog. For administrators who wish to use the course as a building-wide staff offering, the application process must be completed.

To request further information and/or arrange for a certified aha Process trainer, contact Amy Knupp,  Regional Administrator.

Name Title Email
Amy Knupp Regional Administrator Amy Knupp