Stanford professor finds income not the main determinant of public school effectiveness

January 16, 2018

By Sarah Ortlip-Sommers

study by Sean F. Reardon, professor of poverty and inequality in education at the Graduate School of Education, found that socioeconomic status in U.S. public school districts only weakly correlated with growth in students’ average test scores over time.

Reardon told Business Insider that students’ rate of test score improvement over time is a better measure of a given school’s effectiveness.

“There are many relatively high-poverty school districts where students appear to be learning at a faster rate than kids in other, less poor districts,” Reardon said in an interview with Stanford News. “Poverty clearly does not determine the quality of a school system.”

Reardon collaborated with GSE Ph.D. student Erin Fahle, Ben Shear Ph.D. ’17, Andrew Ho M.S. ’03 Ph.D. ’05 and research staff Demetra Kalogrides and Richard DiSalvo. The team published their findings in a working paper on Dec. 5.