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Poverty in America

Activity Description


Students will explore census data, including infographics and reports, to better understand rates of poverty in the nation.

Suggested Grade Level


Approximate Time Required

60-90 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to identify the difference between the “official” poverty measure developed in the 1960s and the “supplemental” poverty measure developed in the 2000s.
  • Students will be able to use U.S. Census Bureau resources to identify changes in rates of poverty and analyze other poverty data.

Materials Required

  • The student version of this activity, 24 pages (which the teacher will likely choose to print in color)
  • A computer with Internet access for each student

Activity Items

The following items are part of this activity. The items, their sources, and instructions for viewing them online appear at the end of this teacher version.

  • Measuring America — How Census Measures Poverty
  • The Supplemental Poverty Measure, 2020
  • Income and Poverty in the United States, 2020

This activity also uses the following online tool:

Teacher Notes

Blooms Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy

Students will analyze poverty and its impact on the U.S. population.


High School Sociology


  • Poverty

Skills Taught

  • Comparing and contrasting data
  • Making inferences


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