School-Age Children:

Poverty and Diversity Challenge Schools Nationwide

T-HEHS-94-125: Published: Mar 16, 1994. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 1994.

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GAO discussed the educational needs of poor school-aged children and the impact of demographic changes on national education goals. GAO noted that: (1) although the total number of school-age children declined by 2.3 million between 1980 and 1990, the number of poor school-age children increased to 7.6 million and the school-age poverty rate increased to 17.1 percent; (2) since 1990, child poverty has continued to increase; (3) 7 of the 10 cities with the highest school-age poverty rates in 1990 were in the east and south and rural counties accounted for one-fourth of all poor school-age children; (4) since 1980, the number of poor school-age children has increased significantly in the west and southwest; (5) although poor school-age children became more racially and ethnically diverse during the 1980s, there was a significant increase in the number of poor Hispanic and Asian children; (6) since 1980, the number of immigrant and other at-risk children has increased by 20 percent; (7) schools are expected to face many difficulties as a result of demographic changes in the school-age population and will need to resolve how to educate children who change schools frequently and children from multiple language and cultural backgrounds; and (8) Congress will need to balance limited educational funds with the problems faced by educationally disadvantaged children to meet new education standards.

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