About the Index

+ What is the Education Equality Index?

The Education Equality Index is the first national comparative measure of the achievement gap between students from low-income families and their peers across the state, measured at the school and city level.

Powered by one of the largest collections of publicly-available student achievement data ever gathered, the Education Equality Index shows whether – and how quickly – the achievement gap is closing for students from low-income families.

+ Why was the Education Equality Index created?

The Education Equality Index was created to compare the size and pace of change of the achievement gap across city and state lines. It was designed to identify individual schools in each city across the nation that are closing the achievement gap, and provide a foundation for significant future research.

+ How is the Education Equality Index different from other measures?

Equality vs. quality
While there are hundreds of measures of school quality, the EEI is the first attempt to measure equality – how students from low-income communities are performing compared to their peers – across 100 major cities in the 35 states with available data.

Focus on students from low-income communities nationwide
Other measures might evaluate the performance of students from low-income families as a component of quality, or look at a select group of cities. The EEI focuses on how well students from low-income families are being educated in the schools and cities for which data are available.

Amount of data
There is no other single collected dataset today with as much income-focused proficiency data at the grade and school levels.

Consistency
There is no other nationally comparative measure of the achievement gap that is applied this broadly to schools and cities across the country.

+ How can the Education Equality Index fairly compare schools and cities?

The Education Equality Index is a relative measure, comparing the performance of students from low-income families at each school with their low-income and non low-income counterparts across the state.

Within each state, the EEI identifies the gap between students from low-income families who reach proficiency and all students in the state who reach proficiency in each grade/subject level, and compares that gap to every other state using the same method.

This proportional methodology produces standardized scores at the school and city levels that are comparable across the nation, making the EEI the most comprehensive national measure of the achievement gap using data that is publicly available across states. Other assessments, such as NAEP, only cover limited states and cities.

+ Who created the Education Equality Index?

The Education Equality Index was created by Education Cities and GreatSchools, and developed in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

Education Cities is a non-profit organization that convenes, advises, and supports city-based non-profits in their efforts to increase the number of great public schools across the nation.

Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit helping millions of parents find high-quality schools, support great learning, and guide their kids to great futures. GreatSchools offers thousands of articles, videos, and worksheets to help parents support their children’s learning. Last year, GreatSchools had more than 56 million unique visitors, including more than half of all U.S. families with school-age children. Headquartered in Oakland, California, GreatSchools partners with cities and states across the country to promote access to school quality data to families, particularly those in high need. Through its GreatKids program, GreatSchools promotes parenting for education success and teacher-parent collaboration.

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of children living in urban poverty around the world. Headquartered in Austin, TX with satellite offices in New Delhi, India and Cape Town, South Africa, the Dell family foundation funds programs that foster high-quality public education and childhood wellness, and improve the economic stability of families living in poverty. The foundation has committed more than $1.2 billion to global children’s issues and community initiatives to date.

Interpreting the Data

+ How is the Education Equality Index score calculated?

The Education Equality Index score is calculated by identifying the percentage of students from low-income families that reach proficiency averaged across every subject/grade, and comparing it to the percentage of all students across a given state that reach proficiency averaged across every subject/grade.

For a more detailed description, visit the Methodology page.

+ What does "Top Schools" mean?

Schools classified as “Top Schools” are those with small or nonexistent achievement gaps that serve a student population where at least 51 percent of students are from low-income families as measured by the free or reduced price lunch (FRL) program. 51 percent FRL is the national average school concentration of students from low-income families. In cities with more than 10 “Top Schools,” the 10 with the smallest achievements gaps are shown.

+ What does the Education Equality Index score mean?

68-100 = No Achievement Gap
Students from low-income families in a given school, city or state reach proficiency at a higher rate than their peers, on average.

50-67.9 = Small Achievement Gap
Students from low-income families in a given school, city, or state reach proficiency at a similar rate as all students, on average.

38-49.9 = Large Achievement Gap
Students from low-income families in a given school, city, or state reach proficiency at a higher rate than most students from low-income families, but at a lower rate than all students, on average.

0-37.9 = Massive Achievement Gap
Students from low-income families in a given school, city, or state reach proficiency at a lower rate than students from other low-income families, on average.

+ Why can’t I fairly compare statewide EEI scores?

Because states’ absolute EEI scores are highly correlated to the percentage of students in the state who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, the ability to rank states based on EEI score and pace of change has been removed pending further review. The goal of the EEI is to add value to the national conversation about the achievement gap, and, in the future, we plan to further develop the EEI by exploring the possible incorporation of additional national measures. If you have comments or questions, please contact Jennifer Calloway at contact@educationequalityindex.org.

About the Data

+ How do you classify “students from low-income families?”

The Education Equality Index relies on the performance of students in every classroom that receive free or reduced price lunch (FRL) through the National School Lunch Program.

To receive a free or reduced price meal, households must meet income eligibility requirements. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals.

Children in families that receive food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are automatically eligible for free school meals. Families who receive commodity assistance through food distribution programs in American Indian tribal areas are also automatically eligible for free meals.

+ Why can't I see data for my state?

If data is not available for your state, it is because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Your state does not report data with the level of precision the Education Equality Index methodology requires. For example, Oklahoma does not report the subgroup performance of students that receive free and reduced price lunch.
  • Your state did not track student performance in a specific year.
  • Your state does not comply with federal data reporting laws.
+ Why can’t I see data for my city?

If data is not available for your city, it is because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Data is not available for your state.
  • Your city is not one of the 100 biggest cities within the states for which data is available.
+ Why isn't my school identified?

If your school is not listed, it is because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • The student population at your school that qualifies for free or reduced price lunch is smaller than the federal average.
  • There is a nonexistent or small achievement gap at your school, but the gap is bigger than those of the 10 schools listed.
  • The achievement gap at your school is either large or massive.
  • Data is not available for your state.
+ How do you calculate "pace of change?"

Pace of change is the difference in the EEI score between the first and last years of data available for your state.

+ What data are you using to calculate your scores?

Education Equality Index scores are calculated using annual assessments taken by students across all subjects and grades tested in a given state.

The data powering the EEI is the country’s most significant set of income-focused student proficiency data.

All public school data was provided to GreatSchools by state education agencies.

Learn more about data sources.

More Questions?

For more information, contact Jennifer Calloway at (312) 835-3925 or contact@educationequalityindex.org.