Interactive chart: See how wealth affects achievement in Michigan schools

click to enlarge

Sometimes, it’s difficult to appreciate how students from vastly different Michigan school districts perform over time.

That’s why bubbles help.

Using research from Stanford University and Bridge Magazine’s Academic State Champs, this series of charts helps show how students in more than 500 Michigan public districts grow over time.

In the first two charts, on third and eighth grade, you can see how family structure and income appear to predict student success. (Click on the buttons to toggle between the two grades.) When you look at overall gains (click on the the ‘see total gains’ button)  you see that income is not as powerful a predictor: Students from all income levels have the ability to gain five grades or more during the five years from third to eighth grade.

Put your cursor on the bubbles to see which districts they are. The bubbles’ size indicates district population. Richer districts are to the right of the vertical line, poorer ones to the left.



Click to see 3rd grade Click to see 8th grade Click to see total gains

Third grade proficiency


Eighth grade proficiency


Total gains (in grade levels), 3rd to 8th grade


Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Tue, 02/13/2018 - 8:15am

Once again a Bridge author grabs two secondary characteristics and tries to make the galling connection one causes the other. academic performance is caused by wealth. While an equally logical conclusion maybe it's academically high performing children which cause parents to make more money? It is just assumed it is wealth that causes high academic performance because that fits modern center left thinking and solutions. What is worse (and more likely, my opinion) is that maybe its another factor altogether that leads to both higher academic performance and high earning parents (and yes plural). It's just easier to say it's the money!