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Student Census Poverty Rate 2010

  • New Hampshire
    9%
  • Connecticut
    11%
  • Maryland
    12%
  • Alaska
    12%
  • Massachusetts
    13%
  • Wyoming
    13%
  • Hawaii
    13%
  • Virginia
    13%
  • New Jersey
    13%
  • Minnesota
    14%
  • Vermont
    14%
  • North Dakota
    14%
  • Iowa
    14%
  • Utah
    15%
  • Colorado
    15%
  • Nebraska
    16%
  • Maine
    16%
  • Delaware
    16%
  • Kansas
    16%
  • Washington
    16%
  • Wisconsin
    17%
  • South Dakota
    17%
  • Idaho
    17%
  • Pennsylvania
    18%
  • Rhode Island
    18%
  • Illinois
    18%
  • Missouri
    19%
  • Montana
    19%
  • Nevada
    19%
  • Oregon
    20%
  • Indiana
    20%
  • New York
    20%
  • California
    21%
  • Ohio
    21%
  • Michigan
    21%
  • Florida
    22%
  • Oklahoma
    23%
  • North Carolina
    23%
  • Arizona
    23%
  • Georgia
    23%
  • West Virginia
    23%
  • South Carolina
    24%
  • Kentucky
    24%
  • Tennessee
    24%
  • Texas
    24%
  • Arkansas
    25%
  • Louisiana
    25%
  • Alabama
    26%
  • New Mexico
    27%
  • Mississippi
    30%
  • District of Columbia
    31%
  • Puerto Rico
    54%

Below is an analysis of student poverty rates for 2009 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The analysis details how student poverty rates interact with other important education indicators such as per-pupil expenditures and student achievement.

Student poverty rates vary by region.1

On average, a higher percentage of students—22 percent—lived in poverty in Southern states in 2009 than in any other region of the country. The lowest average concentration of students living in poverty—15 percent—was in Northeastern states, while an average of 16 percent of students lived in poverty in both the Midwest and the West.2

Arkansas and Iowa each have a similar number of students enrolled in their public school systems at 478,965 and 470,537 respectively. Arkansas had the third highest student poverty rate in the nation in 2009 at 24 percent, whereas in Iowa, only 13 percent of students lived in poverty. This means that Arkansas had approximately 115,000 students living in poverty, almost twice as many as the 61,000 students living in poverty in Iowa.

States with higher student poverty rates tend to have lower math and reading proficiency rates on national tests.

In general, students in states with lower student poverty rates in 2009 performed better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2009 than those in states with higher student poverty rates. In New Hampshire, Maryland, Alaska, Connecticut, and Wyoming—the five states with the lowest percentage of students living in poverty—40 percent of 8th graders scored proficient in reading and 38 percent scored proficient in math. In the five states with the highest percentage of students living in poverty—the District of Columbia, Mississippi, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Kentucky—an average of 23 percent of 8th grade students scored proficient or above in reading and an average of 20 percent scored proficient or above in math.

Google Chart

While student poverty rates are a relatively good predictor of student achievement, particularly for states with relatively high or low poverty rates, there are certainly examples of states where students perform well on NAEP tests despite high poverty rates and vice versa. For example, in Kentucky, which has the fifth highest student poverty rate in the country, 33 percent of 8th grade students scored proficient or above on the NAEP reading test, ranking 20th in the country. In Alaska, which has the third lowest student poverty rate in the country, only 27 percent of 8th grade students scored proficient or above on the NAEP reading test, ranking 39th in the country.

States with higher student poverty rates tend to have lower per-pupil expenditures.

In general, states with higher the student poverty rates tend to have lower average per-pupil expenditures.3 Higher poverty levels generally indicate that less family income is available for tax contributions. Because tax contributions, particularly property taxes, are a major source of revenue for education funding, this translates into lower per pupil expenditures. The 10 states with the lowest student poverty rates had an average per pupil expenditure of $13,478, while the 10 states with the highest student poverty rates had an average per pupil expenditure of $10,358, more than $3,000 less. When the District of Columbia, which has the highest level of per pupil expenditures, is omitted, the average expenditure drops to $9,320.

  1. 1. The student poverty rate data used in this analysis are from the 2009 Census poverty estimates. The U.S. Census Bureau provides estimates of the poverty rate each year for states, counties, and school districts. The student poverty rate includes children ages 5 to 17 living in families in poverty. The poverty threshold varies by the size of the family and the number of related children under 18 years. In 2009, the poverty threshold for a four person family with two children was $21,756. For a three person family with two children, the threshold was $17,285.
  2. 2. Regions. Northeast: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont. Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin. South: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia. West: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
  3. 3. The major exception to this is the District of Columbia, which has the nation’s highest poverty rate at 29 percent, but also the highest per pupil expenditure at $19,698. The District of Columbia has a particularly high number of students enrolled in special education and consequently, receive large amounts from the federal government.
Published Mar 28 2012 20:18