A Stanford study of 45 million students found something startling about which kids succeed

January 08, 2018

By Chris Weller

For many parents, judging a local public school comes down to average test scores and the amount of money going into that school.

A new Stanford University study of test scores from 45 million students, who populate the approximately 11,000 US public school districts, upends that set of assumptions.

The study found no correlation between a given district's socioeconomic status and the average test scores of its students. According to Stanford sociologist Sean Reardon, the smartest way to measure a school's effectiveness was to instead look at the students' rate of improvement over time, as measured by their standardized tests.

"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 a statement. "Poverty clearly does not determine the quality of a school system."