Interactive map: Data links low income to poor school test results

The Winnipeg School Division released details of its draft budget Tuesday which includes plans for a full-day nursery/kindergarten pilot program in four schools.
The Winnipeg School Division released details of its draft budget Tuesday which includes plans for a full-day nursery/kindergarten pilot program in four schools. The Canadian Press

TORONTO – The income level of a school’s community correlates with the school’s scoring in Ontario’s standardized tests – meaning richer communities will produce better scores – according to data obtained by Global News.

Global News obtained the Education Quality and Accountability (EQAO) standardized testing scores of schools across Ontario through access-to-information laws.
Grade 3 students were tested in reading, writing, and math.

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Grade 3 reading test results with median income by census tract

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School test results obtained from the Ministry of Education under access-to-information laws.
Income data from the 2006 census, provided by Statistics Canada

Percentage of Grade 3 pupils meeting or exceeding the provincial standard in reading, average of available years:
100-80% | 80-60% | 60-40% | 40-0%

Median income, 2006 census

Over $40,000$35-40,000$30-35,000$25-30,000$20-25,000Under $20,000


Grade 3 test results, 2006-11
Click on a point to see a school’s test history, and use the pulldown menu to switch between subjects
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When comparing the scores of schools with the median income in the census tract in which the school was located, Global News found that the higher the income, the higher the scores – and vice versa. Income was measured in the 2006 census.

Experts say the results are not surprising.

“There has been a great deal of research over the years showing that poverty reduces school success,” Dr. Jane Gaskell from the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto said. “Income is linked to various forms of cultural, social and economic capital, all of which help students do well in school.”

The correlation between income and EQAO scores is also visually apparent. In the map above, census tracks with light gray shading have lower median incomes. Dark gray shading denotes a higher median income.
The census tract which includes Rosedale, one of Toronto’s wealthier neighbourhoods, had a median income of over $50,000 in 2005. The corresponding EQAO reading scores of Grade 3 students were as expected, scoring 87 per cent in 2008-2009, and 83 per cent in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.

Grade 3 reading scores at or above the provincial standardMedian income in school’s census tract

Similarly, Grade 3 students at Gateway Public School located in Flemingdon Park averaged a reading score of 57.4 per cent between 2006 and 2011.

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The median 2005 income in the area was $20,066.

According to Gaskell, there are various ways that can help schools in communities with a lower average median income to improve the education of their children.
“One approach would obviously be to reduce child poverty in Canada,” Gaskell said, though admitted that in the current political, and economic climate, politicians seem hesitant to increase spending.

There are other ways at increasing equality across socioeconomic states, Gaskell said, some of which are already in practice across Ontario.

Early childhood education, a main tenant of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s political agenda, helps Gaskell said.

Other policies such as “school nutrition and health programs, extracurricular and summertime supports for students who are not getting these privately in their families, linking social services more closely with educational institutions, housing programs that allow poor families to stay in one place/school over time,” may also help schools in low-income communities.