NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Schools in Poor Neighborhoods Can Out-Perform Those in Wealthy Distr

December 13, 2001

It is commonly assumed that schools in poverty-stricken and minority areas do a much poorer job of educating students than schools in affluent neighborhoods. But a study by the Education Trust, a non-profit advocacy group for public school children, challenges that assumption.

  • The study found that 4,577 public elementary and secondary schools that serve mostly minority or poor students are among the top academic achievers in their states -- frequently outperforming schools in wealthy communities.
  • Using a U.S. Department of Education database for 2000, the Education Trust study found that 3,592 schools with high poverty rates were among the top-performing one-third of all schools in their states.
  • Predominately minority schools which fell into that high- performance category numbered 2,305.
  • And 1,320 were both mainly poor and minority.

These superior schools educate more than 2 million students. About 5 percent are magnet schools. Some 27 percent are located in rural areas and 21 percent are in large cities.

There are 89,000 U.S. public elementary and secondary schools across the nation. Texas had the largest number of such high-performance disadvantaged schools in the nation -- at 454.

Source: Tamara Henry, "School's Out for Assumptions," USA Today, December 13, 2001; based on Craig D. Jerald, "Dispelling the Myth Revisited: A Preliminary Analysis of 'High Flying Schools,'" December 12, 2001, Education Trust, 1725 K St. N.W., Suite 200, Washington, D.C. 20006, 202-293-1217.


Browse more articles on Education Issues