Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of posts looking at whether the nation’s schools have improved over the past quarter-century or so—what might be considered the modern “reform era” of American education. The first two posts demonstrated that student outcomes rose significantly from the mid-1990s until the Great Recession—especially in reading and math, but in other academic subjects, too. The greatest progress came for the lowest-performing students and children of color. The third post argued that this educational progress coincided with dramatically improving conditions for our poorest families. In particular, the “supplemental poverty rate” plummeted for children of color in the 1990s and into the 2000s, along with crime and teenage pregnancy rates.
It’s long been understood that, on average, there’s a strong relationship between a child’s socioeconomic status and his or her academic outcomes. It’s also the case that when poor families become less poor—either because of more “market income” or due to social programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit—their children tend to do better in school.
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Mike Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and executive editor of Education Next.
This post originally appeared in Flypaper.