Does a school district’s success in teaching math depend on socioeconomics? Sure, but there’s more to it than that.

Yesterday’s release of FSA data (posted at School Zone and Gradebook) in which the numbers of students in each school and district scoring in each of Florida’s quartiles shows there was considerable variation from school to school and district to district.  The correlation between student achievement and socioeconomics is well known and can be seen clearly in the plot below, in which the percentage of each district’s students scoring in the state’s top two quartiles (or the state’s top 50%) on the grade 3-8 math exams is graphed against the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced price lunches.


The highest scoring district in the graph is also the state’s only truly affluent district, St. Johns.  The lowest scoring district – with fewer than 20% of its students making it into the state’s top half – is Jefferson County.

But it’s worth noting that even this simple graph demonstrates that demographics is not destiny.  Little Dixie County, with its free and reduced prince lunch rate (FRL) near 100% gets almost half of its students into the state’s top half.  Another rural district, Union, gets 61% of its students into the state’s top 50% despite a 64% FRL.  Miami-Dade County, with an FRL of 75%, has 48% of its students in the state’s top half.  Citrus County, with FRL=66%, has 57% of its students in the state’s top 50%.

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