Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program



Watts, Alison


This paper investigates the relationship between poverty and school performance in Chicago Public Schools. This paper uses a sample of 495 schools in the City of Chicago school district, with both regular public schools and charter schools. Data is comprised of various demographic measures, including percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunch, which serves as a proxy for measuring poverty level among students. We use ordinary least squares to estimate the effect of poverty, and other school-level characteristics, on school achievement on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). We find that poverty has a significant negative impact on achievement. We also find that, controlling for demographic population, increasing both attendance rates and school size could improve achievement on test scores.