A new study concludes that the percentage of a Maine school’s student population who live in poverty is the single best predictor of academic performance.
Lead author David Silvernail of the Maine Education Policy Research Institute at the University of Southern Maine presented the findings to the Legislature’s Education Committee on Thursday. He told the committee that the percentage of students whose families live in poverty, along with per-pupil regular instruction spending and teacher education levels, account for 70 percent of the difference in student performance between schools in poorer and more affluent communities.
Furthermore, students at schools with more children living in poverty fall further behind as they move from elementary to middle and high school, the study indicates.
Perhaps most surprisingly, Silvernail, director of USM’s Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation, told the Bangor Daily News on Friday, the performance of more affluent students at schools with higher percentages of students living in poverty also suffers compared to their peers at schools with less poverty.