**High Poverty Levels Depress School
Performance of All Students**

This version
of ScatterBrain (Javascript)
has been modified to display a data set that contains student achievement in 1,019
elementary schools and middle schools in 16 of the larger school districts in
Texas. The emphasis is on demonstrating the impact of poverty upon academic
performance. The sad fact is that 60
percent of Texas’ public-school students are classified as being economically
disadvantaged. Twenty years ago this number was 45 percent. This one-third increase in the number of
Texas school children who are eligible for the federal Free or Reduced-Price
Lunch Program has made it extra difficult to show improvements in their
educational attainment. Furthermore, the
very high proportions of economically disadvantaged students in many schools
greatly multiply the difficulties of achieving satisfactory academic progress.
In addition, the concentration of large percentages of economically
disadvantaged children in a given school also reduces the progress of students
who are not designated as economically disadvantaged. The Texas school funding system’s additional
grant provided to school districts for each economically disadvantaged student
fails to meet the greatly increased cost of educating such students in schools
with very high concentrations, nor does it acknowledge the collateral costs
imposed on the non-economically disadvantaged students who attend the same
schools.

In the
following graph each middle school in Fort Bend ISD is represented by two
colored circles, one directly above the other in accordance with the percentage
of economically disadvantaged (ED) students at a school. The aqua-colored circles represent the
percentage of non-ED (NED) students achieving the grade Making Grade Level
(MGL) standard; the orange circles represent the percentages of ED students
achieving the MGL standard. The data beneath the graphs show that 75% of the
NED students met grade level in all subjects (MGL_NED) while just 37% of the ED
students met the same standard.

The software
available here produces graphs using performance data for over 1,000 schools
which together enroll 723,992 elementary and middle school students in 16
school districts. The previous diagram, and many others, can be reproduced with
this software, the individual points which represent schools can be identified
and their associated data displayed beneath the graph.

The program
is initiated by clicking on Item 2 at the left.

Items 3 – 7 at
the left contain instructions for using the program. Click on the black arrows
to show the individual steps in each case. Also, the special instructions
tailored to this modified version of the software are available by clicking on
the button [Supl. Instr.].

Item 8 permits
downloading a draft paper that analyzes and discusses the impact of increasing levels
of poverty upon the school performance of economically disadvantaged students
as well upon the performance of students who are not classified as economically
disadvantaged. The paper is based upon the data for the 16 school districts and
their 1,019 middle and elementary schools which are displayed in the scatterplots
in this section.