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Report Charts Increase in High-Poverty Schools

"Condition of Education 2010"

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The percentage of public schools where more than three-quarters of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—a key indicator of poverty—has increased in the past decade, and children at those schools are less likely to attend college or be taught by teachers with advanced degrees.

The findings come from a special report on high-poverty schools included in the “Condition of Education 2010” study, which reports on a broad range of academic indicators across K-12 and higher education.

The U.S. Department of Education report, released last month, found that the proportion of schools judged to be high-poverty rose from 12 percent to 17 percent between the 1999-2000 and 2007-08 school years, even before the current recession was fully felt. By comparison, the overall poverty rate for children grew from 17 percent to 18 percent.

In all, 16,122 schools were considered high-poverty, the report says.

Students at such schools face a number of disadvantages. For example, a smaller percentage of teachers in high-poverty schools hold at least a master’s degree and regular professional certification than is the case for low-poverty schools, according to the report.

Students in high-poverty schools are also less likely to graduate from high school and go on to a four-year college. On average, 68 percent of 12th graders in high-poverty schools graduated with a diploma in 2007-08, compared with 91 percent at low-poverty schools. And 28 percent of graduates of high-poverty schools entered a four-year institution the next year, compared with 52 percent of graduates from low-poverty schools.

High-poverty schools were also more likely than better-off schools to be located in cities and in the South and the West; enroll high numbers of students who are members of disadvantaged minority groups; and serve large percentages of students with limited English skills.

Vol. 29, Issue 33, Page 5

Published in Print: June 9, 2010, as Report Charts Increase in High-Poverty Schools
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