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Study links school performance, poverty

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UNDATED (WRN)  A new study shows a link between poverty and recently released school Report Card scores. The report from the Forward Institute looked at school performance scores released by the Department of Public Instruction this fall and how many of the lowest scores came from areas with high rates of poverty. Study author Scott Wittkopf says they appear to be closely related, since schools with higher numbers of economically disadvantaged students received significantly lower scores that districts with low levels of poverty.

Wittkopf says it should serve as a warning to lawmakers considering proposals that would tie school funding and teacher salaries to those scores, since poverty appears to be a very significant factor. He says it is unfair to tie school funding to the results of the report cards, since student poverty is something districts have very little control over.

The study also found public schools with large numbers of economically disadvantaged students performed better than charter schools with similar student populations. Wittkopf says it shows the state needs to reconsider the performance standards and accountability measures for those schools, which he says are underperforming in their core mission of student excellence and achievement.

Wittkopf says the findings should be used to reevaluate what information education funding decisions are based on and to look for ways to improve the resources available to schools with high numbers of economically disadvantaged students.

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