With few exceptions, low-poverty schools have high percentages of proficient readers and high-poverty schools have lower percentages–regardless of the school’s ethnic makeup (see selected states below).  This evidence argues against the view that the generally low percentages of proficient readers in high minority schools are the result of racial discrimination.  Rather, it is consistent with the view that the low reading proficiencies of high-minority schools are principally a function of their high percentages of economically disadvantaged students. 

Most economically disadvantaged students enter school well below grade level and require instruction that will enable them to reach proficiency by grade three.  Such instruction is readily available and the high-poverty schools that are outpacing their demographic peers are typically found to be using some form of it.  The problem is that schools have been extremely slow in adopting the necessary practices.

The poverty limitation on educational success is largely surmountable but change will require schools to recognize their pedagogical shortcomings and adopt practices that are adequate to the problem.

Guide to understanding state reading performance charts.



New York City (displays large number of exceptional charter schools)


South Carolina