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