Colorado kids rank 11th smartest in study comparing test scores with family income

Amidst ongoing debate over the state’s role in providing breakfast for school children comes a report indicating that kids living in poverty do worse in school than kids whose families have more resources.

“Think about all the things that are correlated to parental income and education,” says Kevin Welner, education professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, “where you live, whether there’s lead paint on the walls, whether the child has good dental care and health care is correlated, other responsibilities the child might have—whether it’s working a job or child care of other siblings—we could go on and on and on for all the things that make a difference.”

Welner made his remarks to The Daily Beast, in a report published this morning that ranks states on the basis of how well kids are doing in 4th grade and 8th grade testing. Colorado ranks 11th, which probably isn’t too bad considering how challenging school funding has been lately in the state.

Massachusetts ranked first, and Mississippi ranked last.

The Daily Beast used results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and overlaid that with demographic information.

From The Beast:

How should we interpret the results? And how much do a child’s, or state’s score, reflect the diligence, intelligence or affluence of the parent, versus the strengths or weaknesses of the school systems? Are the kids that do best, in fact, smarter? What does it mean to be smart, anyway?

For instance, the top five performing states on this list have a median household income (not adjusted for cost of living) of roughly $60,000, and 21 percent of people over age 25 have a bachelor’s degree; the bottom five are at $44,000 and 14 percent, respectively, according to 2009 US Census figures. Children who perform better on NAEP tests also tend to come from states with lower levels of student poverty.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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