Excellence and Equity: Closing the Acheivement Gap in Des Moines Public Schools

Report by Charles Bruner, Syed Noor Tirmizi
April 1, 2004

(Inactive) Child and Family Policy Center   (Des Moines)

In the Des Moines Public Schools, as in the country, there are significant disparities in educational achievement – between low-income and other students and across student race. In terms of the economic and racial diversity of its student population, the Des Moines Public Schools population looks more like the nation as a whole than the rest of Iowa.

This study examined student achievement in the Des Moines Public Schools, as measured by composite test scores in third, eighth, and eleventh grades, on five critical factors:
• Income status, as measured by student participation in the free-and-reducedprice lunch (FRPL) program;
• Race, as designated by students as White, African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or other;
• School type, as measured by the percentage of students in the school on freeand- reduced-price lunch;
• English as a Second Language (ESL) status; and • Place, as measured by the student’s residence.

The study examined these both independently for their relationship to test scores and in combination with the other factors. In addition, the study examined special education involvement, also including gender as an additional important factor.