Giving Compass' Take:

• Andre Perry highlights the need for nutrition and health services to close the achievement gap in academics. 

• How can funders support efforts to close achievement gaps by providing key non-academic services? 

• Learn about community schools that provide a range of services for students. 

As we begin the school year, let’s not ignore the signs of poverty in the United States.

There will be some children who will need to start school, not to get a better education, but to have a nutritious meal and shelter during the day. Many of those students will enter the school year with obvious signs of poverty: old, dirty uniforms, worn-down shoes, and teeth that need a dentist’s chair. But we should not ignore the things we can’t see: low-quality health care, persistent hunger, and housing insecurity.

Education reforms that only concern themselves with admission policies and testing standards and ignore basic needs are doomed from the start. One of the reasons why so-called “gap closing” efforts — approaches that rigidly attempt to close the academic achievement gap between white and black students — fail children of color in that they mask underlying causes of underachievement.

Hunger isn’t the only hurdle we don’t see. Many children also struggle with a lack of a family home.

A 2016 report published by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness notes that during the 2013-2014 school year, 1.3 million schoolchildren experienced homelessness.

Read the full article about achievement gaps by Andre Perry at The Hechinger Report.