Free and reduced lunches provide a way for the Montevideo school district to make sure students from lower income families are able to have one or two good meals a day to help them stay focused at school. Recently, the program has also helped the Montevideo schools take a look at test scores.
"What we've identified is that we have an achievement gap and it is based on a level of poverty," said Dr. Luther Heller, superintendent of the Montevideo school district. "The level of poverty is defined by those who are on free and reduced lunches and those who are not."
Where there are some blips amongst the different classes where there are outliers, there is certainly a trend.
"What we are seeing is that there is a gap in how students are doing in both reading and in math, and it's fairly consistent going across the grade levels," Heller said.
Across the district, the difference averages around 20 percent. In the 2011-2012 school year, students eating free and reduced lunches scored an average of 20.5 percent lower on reading test scores, and 21 percent lower on math test scores. In the 2010-2011 school year, students on free and reduced lunches averaged 28.3 percent lower on reading test scores, and 28.9 percent lower on math test scores.
The numbers basically indicate that students from lower income families are scoring lower on tests, but it still leaves the question: why? The answer is likely a layered one, but Heller was able to discuss one element of the situation.
For more on this story and others subscribe or pick up a copy of the Montevideo American-News.