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New study: Ohio school performance is strongly tied to student poverty
Conservatives say that doesn't make a case for more money for schools

Karen Kasler
A new Ohio study shows a strong correlation between poverty and performance.
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In The Region:

A coalition of groups representing Ohio’s public school districts is highlighting a new study that shows a strong correlation between student performance and poverty.  But, as Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports, there’s disagreement on how to deal with the study’s conclusions.

LISTEN: Links between poverty and performance

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LISTEN: Abbreviated verson, poverty and performance

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An analysis of recent state report-card data demonstrates  the link between student performance and poverty. Damon Asbury with the Ohio School Boards Association says a study done for his group and other public school organizations of the student performance index shows the fewer the financial resources a student has, the lower that student’s performance is likely to be – with the converse also holding true. 

“Now obviously, there are successful students in all types of districts and struggling students in all types, but preponderantly, it shows that this relationship is strong.” 

Everyone can achieve, but ...
Asbury says the connection between performance and poverty is not an excuse for low-wealth districts – nor are the report’s conclusions predictors of potential for students. He says the study just shows that there are other things that affect whether students can meet their potential, and that districts where students have fewer resources need more funding to deal with those factors. 

“We have Rhodes Scholars coming out of very difficult backgrounds. What we do think that, on the whole though, those kind of students, if they had access to even more resources, would do even better. And the students who maybe aren’t quite as able to overcome those hardships need additional resources.” 

Conservatives say this makes their case
Over at the conservative Buckeye Institute, Greg Lawson finds the study compelling but not necessarily surprising. 

“What is interesting is that this actually showcases that it’s not necessarily the amount of money that the state is spending on school funding that is indicative of performance index score, but that there’s a bunch of other external, socio-economic issues.” 

Lawson says the results seem to lead to a suggestion that the state needs to send more money to lower-wealth districts. 

“What’s the amount that’s going to get it fair? There are other issues;  there’s family stability issues and things like that. And a lot of that deals with economic issues for sure – jobs and those kinds of problems that are out there. This would seem to show that we want to make sure we get people jobs.” 

Lawson says the Buckeye Institute, which supports school choice and vouchers, will soon put out its own study showing no correlation between state and local funding and student performance.

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