Schools With Tough Tests Send More Low-Income Kids to College


Schools that that teach low-income students a notoriously demanding curriculum are almost twice as likely to see those students enroll in college, a new report shows.

This news comes on the heels of growing research suggesting that challenging assessments, which are a staple of the International Baccalaureate program featured in the report, help students develop a deeper understanding of key subjects like math and history. That “deeper learning,” in turn, may lead to more college opportunities.

The International Baccalaureate, a nonprofit organization that sells its stable of intensive coursework for various subjects to schools around the world, released the study last week, calculating that more than half of the 1,650 schools in the United States that use IB material fit the federal designation of Title I schools, which means they enroll a large low-income student population. In fact, the number of Title I schools offering IB programming increased by 50 percent between 2009 and 2013, the report said.

The IB program provides curricula tailored for specific grade levels, including the IB “diploma program” for high school students. The IB study tracked how many of its low-income diploma program students attending Title I schools enrolled in college, finding that in 2013 nearly eight in 10 went on to a postsecondary institution. The national college-going average for low-income students is 46 percent, the report notes. According to IB, about a third of the diploma program test-takers were considered low-income students. To become an International Baccalaureate school, campuses must go through the program’s authorization program.