What Can States Do to Reduce the Poverty Gradient in Education? Evidence from a Series of Studies

Stephen Gorard
NESET Expert Briefing, 2013

This expert brief summarises the findings of a series of international studies looking at why there is a ‘poverty gradient’ in education and what can be done to reduce it. The poverty gradient is a metaphor used by policy-makers and researchers to describe the gap in educational outcomes between the poorest members of any society and the rest. All states have such a gap, although the scale of difference can vary between regions and over time. The most direct way of addressing the poverty gradient is to reduce or eliminate poverty. In addition, it is also possible to address the educational component. We can work to reduce the existing level of poverty, and we can work within the existing level of poverty to reduce the gap in educational outcomes, but both together is likely to be a more powerful approach. Therefore, nothing in what follows should be interpreted as meaning that wide disparities in income should be accepted.