January 15, 2020

Reading Scores: States Not Doing Right by Kids in Title I Schools

Where poverty is higher, test scores are lower. That’s the continued takeaway from recently released data on fourth-grade reading achievement at schools that do and don’t receive Title I funding, which is the extra federal support delivered to schools with high rates of low-income children.

The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data posted to the KIDS COUNT® Data Center show that in 2019, 49% of fourth-graders in non-Title I schools scored below proficient in reading, up one percentage point from 2017. Put another way, only about half of fourth-graders in schools with ordinary financial resources can read proficiently.

In Title I schools nationwide, the figure was 74% in 2019, unchanged from 2017. About three-quarters of fourth-graders do not read with proficiency in schools with higher shares of children living in poverty.

The achievement gap between Title I and non-Title I schools prevails in every state. There are only two states where at least a third of fourth-graders in Title I schools are reading at proficient levels: Massachusetts, where 36% of fourth-graders in Title I schools are proficient readers (in non-Title I schools in Massachusetts, the figure is 59%), and Wyoming, where 37% of fourth-graders in Title I schools are reading proficiently compared to 44% in non-Title I schools. Wyoming is also the state with the smallest percentage-point gap between the two groups of schools.

The KIDS COUNT Data Center is home to data on hundreds of education-related indicators, including test score figures for reading, writing, math and science in the United States.