Relationship Between Test Performance of Students with Learning Disabilities and the Poverty Levels of Their Schools

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shannon Dingle (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: The purpose of this causal-comparative study was to explore the relationship between the achievement of students with learning disabilities (LD) and the socioeconomic make-up of their schools. The research was guided by the following question: Does a relationship exist between the academic performance of students with LD and the socioeconomic distribution of students (a) at their schools and (b) in their district? The data analyzed were from two urban school districts in the same Southeastern state. The dependent variable was the passing rate (as defined by a proficient score of level III or higher) on EOG tests for students with LD, using the database found at The independent variables were (a) poverty levels of schools in each district studied and (b) student assignment practices for all students at two large districts, labeled Distributed District and Neighborhood District for the purposes of this research.   At the district level, the difference between the average passing rate of students with LD in grades three through eight in the two districts was 9.95% (p=0.001) in math and 8.95% (p=0.0003) in reading, with higher performance in both subjects from the Distributed District which had fewer high-poverty schools as a result of their student assignment plan. At the school level in the Distributed District, the difference between the performance of the group of students with LD in high-poverty schools and low-poverty school was 18.90% in reading (p=0.0005) and 7.37% in math (p=0.36, which is the one finding that was not statistically significant). For the Neighborhood District, the difference between high-poverty and low-poverty schools was 24.10% for reading (p=0.001) and 34.37% for math (p=0.005). In each case, students with LD in the low-poverty schools outperformed their peers at higher poverty schools.   As a causal-comparative study that did not control for all possible variables, the scope of these findings is limited. However, due to the lack of current research comparing the performance of students with LD and the poverty levels at their schools, these findings do indicate a need for additional research in this area. The results also can be used to help teachers understand the challenges that may face their students with LD in high-poverty schools.  

Additional Information

Date: 2010
Education Policy, Educational leadership, Special Education

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