Poorer City Students Underperform Classmates On The SAT, Data Show

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Students from low-income families in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury students do not perform as well as their classmates on the SAT.

In 2015-16, only 9.3 percent of Hartford children who qualify for free or reduced lunch met or exceeded a passing score on the math portion of the SAT, according to date from the state Department of Education. In the same district, 27.2 percent of low-income students earned a passing score on the English section.

Bea Dresser and Molli DeRosa in class.

By comparison, 32.7 percent of students from Hartford who are not eligible for free or reduced lunch received passing scores in math, and 50.9 percent of the same group of students passed their English SATs.

In New Haven, 7.7 percent of low-income students passed math, compared to 20.7 percent of students from higher income families. All the students in Bridgeport qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 29.2 percent passed in English and 10 percent passed in math on the SAT.

The same trend held out in Stamford and Waterbury, with low-income students scoring lower on their SAT than students from higher income families.

Ajit Gopalakrishnan, the chief performance officer of the education department, expressed the urgency of supplying schools that serve low-income students with more resources. He said hiring literacy coaches, offering free breakfast and covering the cost of taking the SAT could help raise the city scores.

“We have to have the courage to try something different,” Gopalakrishnan said.

Noting that the state budgets is in limbo, he said his department is striving to use finances to invest in schools.

Nancy Andrews, director of communications for the Connecticut Education, said in an email that high-poverty districts do not receive the resources to raise student achievement.

“Connecticut continues underfunding public schools to the tune of more than $7 billion per year,” she wrote.

She said Connecticut has an obligation to give its students the best chance for academic success.

Eligibility of a free or reduced lunch is one measure of a family’s income. The designation low income includes those at 130 percent below the poverty level income while free or reduced lunch includes up to 185 percent, the National Center for Education Statistics reports.

Bea Dresser is a student at Hartford Trinity Academy.

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