Study Shows Colorado Schools Fail Those From Poorly-educated Backgrounds

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A new study from Harvard takes a look at the math and science scores of various states and compares them to those of other countries. It also breaks down the results by the educational background of school childrens' parents. And what it says about Colorado is what we've all known for a while: that Colorado doesn't do well by its disadvantaged children.

Overall, Colorado does pretty well. We're between Ireland and New Zealand in overall Math proficiency (with Ireland ranked 14th and New Zealand ranked 15th among countries), and we're 7th place among the states. (The USA comes in overall at 27th place.)

However, when children are separated by the level of education of their parents and those from the least educated backgrounds are evaluated, Colorado drops significantly to 33rd among the states, between the Czech Republic and Greece (28th – 29th among the 34 OECD states participating in comparative testing). (The USA rises to 20th place in comparison).

The trend continues looking at those of moderate education (Colorado is in 10th place among the states) and high levels of education (where Colorado ranks 4th among the states).

As I said, this is what we've known for a long time: Colorado's disadvantaged students – often those in rural areas and those in poverty in the cities – are not given the same advantages that those in well off areas with high concentrations of educated people. This is the root of the Lobato lawsuit and our state's current education funding crisis – that the state's funding formula places exceptional and disproportionate burdens on those children in less well off areas.

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. We compare very unfavorably to Texas in this regard. They place 14th in overall state placement (and 22nd among nations), but 1st when serving the disadvantaged (and 7th among nations).

  2. exlurker19 says:

    I grew up in a crummy neighborhood in Denver and got a world class education from DPS.  My dad dropped out of school in the fifth grade to pick cotton and my mother only graduated high school because she was their top tennis player (I guess in Iowa, tennis used to be big).  But my family loved books and learning. The library (free) was our favorite place.  Dirt poor didn't matter there.

    I went to school with kids who had never seen a book before kindergarten.  Whose parents were illiterate.  Or drunk all the time, or both.

    I've seen the bootstraps those poor kids are supposed to pull themselves up by, and they're flimsy and often snatched right out of their hands.  Shameful, even sinful.

    • Poor is a (poor) substitute for the study's aggregation of poorly-educated. But it's a reasonable approximation.

      Good to hear the love of books and learning were there for you, and that you had a decent time at DPS. I think most districts try. But I've come from a school that has wealth; we had multiple Teacher-of-the-year candidates and winners in our high school, and well-equipped labs capable of teaching subject not available in other schools, and books enough for all, and compter labs with modern equipment, and well-maintained buildings (okay – the 9th grade wing of the high school didn't have AC at the time, but that has long since been fixed…). I have yet to see a district in Colorado with an overall low income level that has been uniformly as well equipped and well staffed.

    • Aristotle says:

      Iowa's culture of education is unsurpassed in the United States. I'm sure that played a role in you mother's graduation. Their dropout rate historically is nonexistant.

      But I also received a top quality education from DPS. They have slipped badly in the past 20-odd years and I have my children going to Littleton schools as a result. (I wish there was no such thing as school choice, because that would mean we'd all have to invest in our schools, but since it's real and since DPS is a much poorer option, I have to do the right thing by my kids. It's at odd with my ideals, but I'm a pragmatist.)

      Anyway, it's a terrible shame. It was very predictable that school choice would contribute to the decline of schools in poor neighborhoods, or districts with many low income families.

      • exlurker19 says:

        Well, I will admit that my husband (from my same old neighborhood) and I stayed in school almost forever so our kids could go to Cherry Creek Schools.  The teachers even there would send home a note that something was needed for the kids and I would come in the next day with a year's worth of the stuff, because I could afford to.  That never happened in the 'hood.

      • dwyer says:


        RE DPS:  They have slipped badly in the past 20-odd years

        The court order was lifted just about 20 years ago, 1995.  Do you think that could account for the decline since then?

    • BlueCat says:

      Shameful and sinful is right.

  3. davebarnes says:

    So, take the children away from poor and poorly-educated parents and give them to rich and highly-educated parents. Problem solved. Swift would approve.

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