How have poverty rates changed in NYC public schools in recent years?

Over 1.1 million students attend any of the NYC public schools from K - 12. With constant demographic changes happening not only in the city but also in the school system, we decided to have our first post focus on certain demographic shifts in NYC public schools throughout time. We take a deep dive into the NYC Open Source datasets (https://opendata.cityofnewyork.us/) and analyze poverty rates within all NYC public schools from 2011 to 2015. Below are the schools with the greatest increase in poverty. Now first, let’s define what the NYC DOE means by poor.

According to NYC DOE’s link here: https://ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/beyond-meal-status-a-new-measure-for-quantifying-poverty-levels-in-the-citys-schools-october-2015.html
Their definition of poverty takes into account the average income of the neighborhood along with other factors. In sum, their determination is that $31,039 based on a family of four (two adults and two children) is their threshold for poverty.

We took into consideration schools that had small populations, so we restricted this to schools with over 500 students. We did this as a way to make sure the percent changes weren’t thrown off by smaller schools.
The first thing we wanted to take a look at were the schools with least poverty rates along with key demographic data which you can interactively click through below:

Below you will see the same interactive graph but for the most impoverished NYC public schools from our most recent data snapshot:

Then we went ahead and calculated this change in poverty from the beginning of our data set to the most recent data point, from 2011-12 to 2015-16 school year. We ranked the schools by top 10 increase in poverty first and then top 10 decrease in poverty.

NYC Public Schools 2.png


Interestingly enough the schools are spaced out throughout the city, as you can see here.

Below you can see the ten schools with largest decrease in poverty as well

NYC Public Schools 1.png

Here we see a difference in magnitude between the school with largest decrease in poverty (The Anderson School) and the school with largest respective increase (P.S. 372). You can see how the changes in schools is pretty equally distributed through the five boroughs, where there doesn’t seem to be a concentration in a certain area.

By far, the most important take away here is the inverse correlation between percentage of white students in these schools, and percentage of schools considered under the poverty threshold. In addition, it seems most of the schools are not concentrated in specific neighborhoods or boroughs, but rather dispersed throughout the five boroughs.

In our next post, we’ll compare this data with rent price changes during the same time period and see if there is any correlation between this and gentrification trends in NYC neighborhoods.