Low-performing public schools not limited to low-income areas

Jun 05, 2014

(Editor’s note: The full study containing the data in this piece is below the post. A searchable database of schools and school districts in the report is at the Pacific Research Institute website.)

Many middle-class Illinoisans think that most low-performing public schools are located in the inner city, not in suburban neighborhoods or in small towns.

They need to think again.

Of Illinois’ 1,156 traditional public schools with student  populations with 33 percent or fewer low-income students, 140 – or 12 percent – have 50 percent or more of their students in at least one grade level failing to meet standards on Illinois math and reading tests.

Waterbury Elementary School in suburban Roselle is a perfect example of such a school.

There, only about one in four students are classified as low income. Yet 51 percent of third-graders and 53 percent of fourth-graders failed to meet standards on the Illinois Standard Achievement Test, or ISAT.

But that’s not all.

Among 1,156 schools, 817 — or 70 percent — students  scored below the average performance of schools with similar  demographics on a subject-matter test in at least one grade.

Prairie View Middle School in Tinley Park is one such example. Despite only having 3 percent of its students classified as low income, on the state eighth-grade reading exam Prairie View  students performed 14 percentage points below the average performance of schools with the same demographics.

To make matters worse, Prairie View students performed below  average on six different grade-level state exams.

Given the poor performance of many Illinois suburban schools, middle- and upper-class families in Illinois should consider embracing school choice.

IL policy schools chart

NOT AS GOOD AS YOU THINK Why Middle-Class Parents in Illinois Should Be Concerned about Their Local Public Schools

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