NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Some Schools Achieve Dramatic Improvements in Low-Income Students' Test Scores

May 14, 1999

Students from low-income families benefit dramatically from schools where standards are high, more personal instruction is available, parents are involved and teachers are held accountable. That was the conclusion of a report issued recently by the organization Education Trust.

The group took a close look at 366 elementary and secondary schools where students had scored above average on standardized math and reading tests, and which had student-poverty levels of more than 50 percent -- qualifying them as Title I schools eligible for special federal assistance.

  • Ninety-five percent of students at a Buffalo school which had adopted these techniques scored at or above grade level in reading, up from 45 percent the year earlier -- compared to the New York state average of 86.1 percent.
  • A Gary, Ind., school registered 78 percent of student reading at or above grade level, compared to the state average of 68 percent -- while 91 percent achieved in math, compared to 70 percent for the state as a whole.
  • A Kansas school saw its scores improve to 80 percent from 50 percent in math, compared with state averages of about 45 percent.
  • The trust found that schools which were doing well increased learning time for reading and math, devoted money for teachers' continuing education, monitored student progress and provided extra help, involved parents in the day-to-day learning process, and held teachers and staff accountable if students failed to show measurable improvement.

Another study, conducted by the Education Trust and the Kentucky Association of School Councils found that several schools in that state with a high level of low-income students achieved the highest scores on the state's standardized tests last year.

Source: Staff, "Helping Poor Students Achieve More," New York Times, May 9, 1999.


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