Students’ early test scores do not predict academic growth over time

A new analysis of data from all public school districts in the United States indicates that poverty does not determine the quality of a school system.

Students’ early test scores do not predict academic growth over time
A Stanford study shows that growth rates in many low-income school districts outpace those where students enjoyed greater access to learning opportunities in early childhood. (Image credit: dv1940003 / Getty Images)

A new research from Stanford Graduate School of Education offers a different approach to students’ academic progress over a period of years. They found that whether the score was higher or lower than the national average, it does not correlate to students’ academic growth through elementary and middle school.

Scientists examined test scores for students in third through eighth grade at 11,000 school districts across the country. They found growth rates in many low-income districts outpaced those where students enjoyed greater access to learning opportunities in early childhood.

Professor Sean Reardon said, “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. Poverty clearly does not determine the quality of a school system.”

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Normal third-grade test scores in a school area, reflect the extent of learning opportunities available in early childhood and early elementary grades– opportunities. Scientists discovered that the normal rates of scholarly development amongst third and eighth grade bore an almost no relationship to third-grade scores and early adolescence focal points.

Reardon said, “There’s a widespread belief that schools exacerbate inequality, that schools are worse in poor communities and better in rich ones. It’s true that there’s a lot of inequality among students when they start school. But these data suggest that at least in some systems, schools are equalizing forces – that it’s possible for schools in disadvantaged communities to be forces for equity.”

Not suddenly, third-grade test scores were most noteworthy in numerous rural school locale around metropolitan zones. What’s more, low in a great part of the Deep South and the rustic West. Be that as it may, development rates were more shifted. Many locales had low third-grade test scores, however, better than expected development rates. Others had better than expected test scores however low development rates.

Reardon said, “Chicago students start out with low test scores in third grade, but their growth rate is much higher than the national average– 20 percent higher. That is true for all racial and ethnic groups in the district.”

“To the extent that information about school quality influences middle-class families’ decisions about where to live, data on growth rates might provide very different signals. You might find parents ranking communities differently if they weren’t relying on average test scores, which are highly correlated with the socioeconomic background.”

According to researchers, the findings could help promote more equitable demographics among communities by revealing above-average learning opportunities in a lower-income area.