Thanks to Michigan’s robust school-choice policies, Detroit’s roughly 100,000 public-school students are widely dispersed across a mix of charters, traditional neighborhood schools, and application schools that select their students.

But efforts to understand how school and student performance compares across these categories have been snarled by a surprisingly hard-to-answer question: Which schools have the highest concentration of the poorest students — the ones who are at the greatest disadvantage before they enter the classroom?

A growing line of research aims to tackle that question, taking a closer look at family income data to uncover significant differences among students whose families fit the broad criteria for economic disadvantage. One such study found that the Detroit Public Schools Community District’s neighborhood schools have higher proportions of students in deep poverty, compared with the city’s charter schools and application schools.

The study captured only a subset of Detroit’s schools, over a brief period of time. Still, researchers say the quest for more detailed data on family income has the potential to shape how schools are evaluated, staffed, and even funded, since students who face more disadvantages at home need more resources to get an adequate education.

“The deeper someone is in poverty, the more challenges they face, and that has a huge impact on a child’s ability to participate in their education,” said Jennifer Erb-Downward, a senior research associate at Poverty Solutions, an initiative at the University of Michigan.

Read the full article about charter schools by Koby Levin at Chalkbeat.