Despite all the policy prescriptions put forward by corporate education reformers, such as privatization, standardized testings, teacher evaluations, union busting and "choice", the one policy area they seem incapable of addressing is the issue that drives student performance more than any other. Poverty.
The Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), Ohio Association of School Business Officials (OASBO) and Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA) performed analysis using the latest school report cards o once again demonstrate how poverty is inextricably linked to performance.
Analysis of the most recent school district state report cards confirms research that shows poverty has a direct correlation to student performance. Using the report cards’ Performance Index (PI) as the measure, analysts examined the relationship between the PI and average income in a school district; poverty rate; percentage of residents with college degrees; and minority population.
The Performance Index is a measure of how well students performed on the state assessments. It is more than just the percentage of students achieving proficiency. Its range allows the public to judge how much higher students performed beyond proficiency.
The 123 Ohio school districts considered by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to be suburban districts showed not only the highest PI scores, but also the highest average income, lowest poverty rate and highest concentration of college degrees.
The graphs of Performance vs Poverty are striking
AS can be seen, there is almost a straight line extrapolation between performance and poverty level. No amount of high stakes testing or teacher bashing is going to overcome this. Investment will be the critical factor to raise the achievement levels of students from poor backgrounds.