Urban Education

Nature of Urban Education


Characteristics of Urban Education

Reports on the condition of urban schools conducted over the past decade indicate that students and teachers in urban settings have greater challenges to overcome than their suburban and rural counterparts. This section is designed to inform you of: (1) general characteristics of urban schools, students, and teachers; and (2) the varied nature of the challenges associated with urban education.

Results of the reports on the condition of urban schools indicate that:
  • On average, urban schools have larger enrollments than suburban or rural schools at both the elementary and secondary levels—and they are more likely to serve low income students.
  • Urban students are more likely to attend schools with high concentrations of low income students. Forty percent of students in urban locales attend high poverty schools (defined as schools with more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced price lunch), whereas only 10 percent of suburban students, and 25 percent of rural students attend high poverty schools.
  • On average, students in urban schools have lower achievement scores (reading, writing, mathematics, and science) than their counterparts in suburban schools.
  • Student behavior problems in the areas of absenteeism, classroom discipline, weapons possession, and student pregnancy are more common in urban schools. On the other hand, the use of alcohol is less of a problem in urban schools than in rural schools.
  • Independent of location, students in high poverty schools are less likely to feel safe in school, or spend as much time on homework as those in low poverty schools. In addition, students in urban high poverty schools are much more likely to watch television excessively.
  • Urban teachers have fewer resources available to them and less control over their curriculum than teachers in other locations.
  • Teachers in urban and high poverty schools have comparable levels of experience and salaries as their suburban counterparts, but have more experience and higher salaries than most of their rural counterparts. However, urban schools have more provisional teachers and instructors teaching out of their content area(s).

In summary, students and teachers in urban schools have a host of challenges to overcome. For this reason, it is crucial that urban educators: (1) arm themselves with all available information on "best practices" and instructional strategies utilized by effective urban educators, and (2) generate their own strategies to address topics and issues related to the academic achievement of urban students.

The next two sections of this module are devoted to national, state, and local achievement trends in urban education, and successful and suggested teaching strategies that can be used to improve the learning and achievement of students in urban schools.



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