Contrary to popular belief, DNA is not a child's destiny. IQ is not fixed. Cognitive skills can change. This is critically important in K-12 schools because of the poverty gap -- the difference between a child's chronological age and developmental age. In a healthy environment, a child's developmental age will match his or her chronological age. In a high-risk environment, research shows that while a child's chronological age is 5 years old, his or her developmental age is closer to 3 years old. This has a huge impact on school readiness and performance. Today, 51 percent of all students in U.S. public schools are poor. Our public education system is designed to help students achieve a year of academic growth in a school year. For economically disadvantaged children, that's a problem. Poverty, however, doesn't have to be an overwhelming obstacle to a child's success. Schools and teachers can make a difference, but there's no time to waste if we want to ensure that every child graduates, joins the workforce, and contributes to our economy in a productive way.