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Poverty and performance are tied, officials note, but outliers abound

Towards the end of today’s conference call with reporters focusing on state test scores, State Education Commissioner John King highlighted a pair of graphs that showed a strong correlation between reading exam performance and poverty. The lower a school’s poverty level, the better its students performed on the tests.

But at each poverty level, King noted, there was a “striking” range in performance. Some schools that were packed with mostly poor students were out-performing the statewide proficiency percentages and more affluent schools.

“The question becomes, what’s happening in these schools that’s leading to those better outcomes?” King asked.


While it’s impossible to completely answer that question today, we’ve begun digging through accompanying spreadsheets (ELA and math) that the state provided to see where the outliers are in New York City. Here are two quick observations:

— Forty-nine city schools where 100 percent of students are considered to be in poverty saw their math proficiency rates jump 10 or more percentage points this year.

— Of the state’s 20 highest-poverty schools with biggest gains in math, 15 are charter schools, most of which operate in New York City.

We’ll continue to look through the data. If you find anything interesting, let us know in the comments.