Executive Functions & Poverty:  Implications for Lifelong Teaching

Authors:  Betsy Hill and Nancy Weinstein

Working in schools with diverse populations such as different socio-economic status (SES), we have had the opportunity to review the schools’ data from assessments of students’ executive functions and other cognitive skills and explore the implications for instruction, individual interventions and overall classroom management. As we will explain in this paper, the data suggest that educators can have a meaningful impact on closing the achievement gap for low-SES students and helping them develop social and emotional competence by understanding and addressing the development of cognitive skills in general, and executive functions in particular. Our intent in this article is not to draw statistical conclusions, but rather to illustrate the kinds of challenges and approaches to addressing those challenges for schools with varying proportions of students living in poverty.

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