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Recognizing and Supporting the Forgotten Poverty Frontier: Exploring Suburban School Poverty in Elementary Schools Open Access

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Modern suburban school districts have experienced a significant shift in demographics over the last decade making them more diverse in race, ethnicity, income and ability level. The income diversity in suburban districts can hide pockets of significant need in the community. Due to the formulas associated with federal programs, suburban districts are less likely to receive supplemental funds to support vulnerable students. This study utilizes a case study approach and offers a unique view into the phenomenon by examining the work of a suburban school which has narrowed the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers without the assistance of federal funds. Data includes interviews with 18 previous and current administrators, teachers and other staff, meeting observations, and a review of school documents and artifacts. Findings note the school maximizes its limited resources, empowers teachers to be instructional leaders through trusting relationships, has a robust support system for students and builds a welcoming school culture. Shield’s (2001) transformative leadership framework was used as a theoretical lens to explore the school’s practices. The results of this study enhance the understanding of suburban schools with diverse populations by (a) identifying the multi-tiered support system that increases achievement of all students; (b) recognizes the school climate and culture among staff and students that create an environment that reinforces learning; and (c) illustrates how relationships between administrators and teachers can reinforce the instructional practices of the school.Keywords: suburban, poverty, achievement gap, increasing student achievement

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