In 2019, sociologist Sean Reardon at Stanford University studied achievement gaps in every school in America and found that the difference in poverty rates between predominantly Black and predominantly white schools explains the achievement gaps we see and why white schools tend to show higher test scores than Black schools. When white and Black schools have the same poverty rates, Reardon didn’t see a difference in academic achievement. The problem is that Black students are more often poor and attending schools with more poor students. And other than a handful of high-performing charter schools in a few cities, he couldn’t find examples of academic excellence among schools with a high-poverty student body.

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