Are Economically Disadvantaged Students Dragging Down Numbers?

There is no doubt that those who are economically disadvantaged have greater challenges when it comes to education. The question has come up, “Are economically disadvantaged students dragging Octorara’s numbers down?” The short answer is no. We may have a greater number and percentage of economically disadvantaged, compared to some schools, but not enough to account for the low overall graduation rate.

This data comes from the same Pennsylvanian Department of Education (last updated 2010-11) report, publicly available on their website.

First, we will compare all the schools and their number and percentage of economically disadvantaged. The data is sorted by percentage.

Total Class Econ. Dis. %
Phoenixville Area HS 209
Unionville HS 361 11 3.05%
Conestoga SHS (Tredyffrin) 496 17 3.43%
Great Valley HS 289 15 5.19%
Downingtown HS East 487 31 6.37%
Owen J Roberts HS 368 27 7.34%
Downingtown HS West 460 34 7.39%
West Chester Bayard Rustin HS 309 23 7.44%
West Chester Henderson HS 322 25 7.76%
West Chester East 357 28 7.84%
Avon Grove HS 482 77 15.98%
Octorara Area JSHS 269 53 19.70%
Kennett HS 311 88 28.30%
Coatesville Area SHS 545 182 33.39%
Oxford Area HS 302 105 34.77%

We can now compare the graduation rates of the five schools with the highest number and percentage of economically disadvantaged. Please note the three schools with higher percentages, are significantly higher in number and percentage of economically disadvantaged.

Avon Grove HS – 88.31%
Coatesville Area SHS – 86.26%
Oxford Area HS – 85.71%
Kennett HS – 82.95%
Octorara Area JSHS – 62.26%

As we see, Octorara’s issue with graduating this subgroup is greater than the others, much greater. The question then becomes, does teacher’s salaries improve the numbers?

Avon Grove HS – $66,085
Coatesville Area SHS – $59,662
Oxford Area HS – $54,843
Kennett HS – $65,545
Octorara Area JSHS – $66,523

No. Each of the other schools with high numbers and percentages of disadvantaged are graduating students at significantly higher rates, and paying teachers less. We are not paying a premium because Octorara is more challenging than all other schools. We are just paying a premium.

Oxford has the highest overall percentage of disadvantaged students, and Coatesville has the largest number. Both schools pay teachers significantly less than Octorara, and have graduation rates among disadvantaged students that are vastly higher.

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