RALEIGH, NC & DURHAM, NC (July 15, 2015) – A new white paper released today by MetaMetrics® finds a strong correlation between poverty and low academic performance in North Carolina. The analysis was done using the Public School Forum’s NC Center for Afterschool Program’s annual Roadmap of Need report and highlights the unique challenges facing North Carolina’s most impoverished counties when it comes to educational achievement.

“As our analysis of the Roadmap of Need report makes clear, there is a strong correlation between economic indicators and educational outcomes,” says Malbert Smith III, Ph.D., president and co-founder of MetaMetrics. “If we are serious as a state about having all of our students graduate college and career ready, then these pervasive equity issues must be addressed.”

According to the MetaMetrics report, impoverished counties suffer a dearth of economic opportunity, and, in general, score poorly on the variables in the Forum’s Roadmap of Need, which cover a broad range of socioeconomic, educational, and health and wellness metrics impacting young people. In other words, counties with little in the way of jobs and economic development typically experience poor health and wellness outcomes and low educational attainment. Among other findings, the Roadmap has shed light on the extreme challenges faced by a cluster of highest-need counties east of the I-95 corridor.

“We know students from economically disadvantaged communities are statistically less likely to succeed in school, but we also know that all students, regardless of their backgrounds or life circumstances, deserve excellent educational opportunities,” says the Forum’s president and executive director, Keith Poston. “Well-run, expertly led schools and great teachers can make a difference and close the gap, but we’ve not been able to create that kind of environment in every school, particularly in our poorer counties.”

In addition to scrutinizing the link between poverty and academic performance, the MetaMetrics report looks closely at third-grade reading performance over the last two years, a period of time during which North Carolina has substantially raised academic standards. The researchers find that drops in the percentage of students proficient on End-of-Grade (EOG) assessments reflect elevated academic standards and not a drop in students’ actual reading abilities over the past two years. According to their analysis, during the period studied, “there has been very little change in the academic performance of NC 3rd grade students.”

The full MetaMetrics report can be accessed at www.lexile.com/about-lexile/white-papers. The Roadmap of Need can be accessed at https://www.ncforum.org/roadmap-of-need/.

About the Public School Forum of North Carolina

Since 1986, the Public School Forum of North Carolina has been an indispensable and nonpartisan champion of better schools and the most trusted source in the state for research and analysis on vital education issues. We bring together leaders from business, education and government to study education issues, develop ideas, seek consensus, and ultimately inform and shape education policy. We do that through research, policy work, innovative programs, advocacy, and continuing education for educators and policymakers. Follow us on Twitter @theNCForum and visit our website at ncforum.org.

About MetaMetrics

MetaMetrics, founded in 1984, is an educational measurement and technology organization whose mission is to connect assessment with instruction. The company’s distinctive frameworks for English and mathematics bring meaning to measurement and are used by millions to differentiate instruction, individualize practice and improve learning across all levels of education. MetaMetrics’ products and services for reading (The Lexile® Framework for ReadingEl Sistema Lexile® para Leer), mathematics (The Quantile® Framework for Mathematics) and writing (The Lexile® Framework for Writing) provide unique insights about academic ability and the potential for growth, enabling individuals to achieve their goals at every stage of development. Connect with the organization at: http://blog.lexile.com.

Note: Malbert Smith serves on the Public School Forum’s Board of Directors and is the Board’s chair-elect.


Keith Poston
President and Executive Director, Public School Forum of North Carolina
919.781.6833, x105

Elizabeth Lattanzio
Marketing Manager, MetaMetrics

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