A Closer and Scary Look at Academic Performance for Economically Disadvantaged Students — Part 1

A look at U.S. data


The Washington Post article, “ Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty”, cites a study that found 51% of the students in public schools were economically disadvantaged for 2012–13 school year.

“We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity

From the U.S. Department of Education, over 49.7 million students were enrolled in public schools during the 2012–13 school year . It means that over 25 million students in the U.S. were economically disadvantaged.

51% and over 25 Million public school students in the U.S. are Economically Disadvantaged

U.S. School Districts

From The Atlantic article “The Concentration of Poverty in American Schools”, a professor at Stanford graduate school of education and one of the nation’s leading experts on residential and educational segregation…

“We can look at every poor district in the United States and see if there are any that are doing reasonably well, where kids are performing at least at the national average,” Reardon says. “And the answer is virtually none.”
“We don’t have much evidence of places that have been systematically successful when they serve very large populations of low-income students.“

Yeah, you read that correctly.

There are virtually no poor districts where kids are performing at the national average.

We are just talking about average performance here.

Average performance for poor districts… Virtually None!


A study done by professor Reardon and his team shows how ‘Academic Achievement’ is correlated to ‘Socioeconomic Status’…

and for the 100 largest school districts…

As you can see…

Being poor or affluent is a POWERFUL PREDICTOR of academic achievement

There’s a very strong relationship between academic achievement and socioeconomic status.

The more affluent and more advantaged the HIGHER the academic achievement
The poorer or more disadvantaged the LOWER the academic achievement

In part 2, we’ll look at California and see with real numbers how being poor or disadvantaged really affects academic performance for students living in these conditions.