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Do schools in low–income areas perform badly on tests?  What about schools in areas where only a small percentage of adults have a college degree?  Or schools in communities where most residents rent rather than own?

These are questions we hoped to answer as we studied data from over 8,000 students in 42 randomly-selected schools. Below are details on our research.

Methodology and Sample Size

Test scores were collected from 8,031 middle school and high school students in 42 randomly selected schools from 5 states. These schools are in both major metropolitan areas and rural communities.  The average per capita income for the zip codes of the 42 schools is $25,102, or about 12% less than the national average. The test scores came from the subject areas of Reading, Science, ELA, and History.  Per capita income data came from Census.gov.  Data on owner-occupied housing came from ZipWho.com.  Data on college degrees came from the WashingtonPost.

After compiling and analyzing the test scores, we did not find what we expected – at the outset. While there are some exceptions, most data indicates that low income correlates with lower test scores.

Little or no research has been done on the correlation between schools in areas with a high percentage of rentals versus a high percentage of owner-occupied dwellings.  Also, we have been unable to find any previously published data on the correlation between the percent of college-educated adults in a community and that community’s test scores.

The test scores used in this article have been taken from assessments on USATestprep’s platform. Data on income, college education, and owner-occupied housing is for each school’s physical zip code.

Below are the schools’ test scores by income, percent of college-educated adults, and percent of owner-occupied housing.   

Test Scores by Per Capita Income

6th-12th Grade Test Scores by Income

Test Scores by Percent of College-Educated

Test Scores by Percent of College Educated Adults in Community

Test Scores by Owner-Occupied Housing

Test Scores by Percent of Owner-Occupied Housing in Community


Teacher pay, by state, is easy to find online.  However, some states have higher costs of living than others. For example, $50,000 in California spends much differently than it does in Tennessee.  With that in mind, which states have the best- and worst-compensated teachers, given cost of living and taxes?  With the help of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forbes, and other sources, we’ve compiled a list of the best and worst states for teachers – not by pay, but by “adjusted pay.” You can download the spreadsheet with salary, cost of living, and tax data here.  We’ve even adjusted the middle school teacher salary figures from each state to reflect the cost of living and taxes, so that you can compare “apples to apples”.

Teacher Pay and Standard of Living in the US5 Highest Paying Cities for K-12 TeachersElement3rv1Element4rv1ElementFooterE1-1ElementFooterE4ElementFooterE5ElementFooterE3ElementFooterE2

We posted this on our Facebook page but it was too good not to share on our blog, as well.

Radiolab offered up a look at the power of suggestion, “white lies”, and placebo on this show that originally aired in 2007. They examined not just the “Placebo Effect” but the use of hypnotism on patients and the power of white doctor’s coat. We thought some of this might be useful in a science or psychology class, but it is definitely enthralling stuff regardless of your area of expertise. This episode turned out to be one of those shows that you listen to even after you’ve reached your destination. Click this link to go to the episode’s home page.

I was doing a yahoo search of our site and discovered this intersting question posted in YAHOO! answers.  A student asked “How to cheat on usatestprep???”  Someone posted a fantastic response to the question.  Here is a screen capture of the post.

grow.jpgWe have often gotten requests from teachers for specific questions to be added to the database. For this reason, we have recently developed the “Help Grow the Database” feature. This new feature allows teachers to add questions in an easy, step-by-step process. These questions are then internally reviewed and added to the online system for students to start using.

You will find this listed as the second item at the top right under “Other Items” after you log in as a teacher. We hope you enjoy this new feature, and we look forward to receiving your submissions.

We know that the AHSGE will soon switch to Biology only. In looking at the DOE AHSGE page, the same science standards are listed that have been there for years. If anyone knows what standards will be implemented or can provide some information, we can get started and make sure we are ready as soon as the state switches over. Contact us at joe@usatestprep.com if you have any information